Leading ISIS fighters were former terrorist detainees

Today’s column by David Ignatius contains this line: “Most of al Qaeda in Iraq’s leading fighters were imprisoned by U.S. occupation troops, but incarceration was a school for jihad, and they emerged tougher, better connected and more dedicated.” Al Qaeda in Iraq is the original name for ISIS.

I’m not sure what Ignatius’ point, if any, is. My point would be that the “incarceration as a school for jihad” theory is a great argument for not releasing captured terrorist fighters (and for solitary confinement). That way, they won’t “emerge” at all.

In Iraq, after a certain point, we didn’t have control over the fate of prisoners. But we had it for the large number of prisoners detained at Gitmo, and we were the ones who released Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, when he was detained in Iraq. We will also have control of many terrorist prisoners when a future American president renews our largely lapsed battle against Islamist terrorism.

While we were holding large numbers of prisoners, the left’s line was that we couldn’t hold them until the end of hostilities — as we do with prisoners captured in a typical war — because the war on terror might go on indefinitely. The argument never made sense. Why should we adopt a detrimental prisoner release policy for terrorists because their fellow terrorists won’t give up their terrorism?

These chickens have been coming home to roost for years. Now, they are doing so dramatically in Syria and Iraq, with direct homeland security consequences for the U.S. likely to follow.

But that seems fine with the left. It will now be able to blame the U.S. for providing a terrorist “school for jihad.”

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