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Why refugees are crucial to the fight against ISIS

16 November 20160 comments

In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election, the future of US refugee policy is uncertain.

Some of Trump’s supporters want to see the US cancel its refugee program and certainly Trump has said he will drastically reduce migration to the US.

He has also said he will re-intensify the US’ fight against ISIS.

But experts say these two policy stances may be mutually exclusive.

They say that rather than justifying a refugee ban, the recent is ISIS outrages should act as a reminder why the US should take the lead on welcoming those fleeing ISIS terrorism.

Accepting refugees is clearly important from a humanitarian standpoint, but it is also good for America’s national security, they say.

Since 1980, when the US began its modern refugee program, the country has accepted almost three million refugees, including hundreds of thousands from the Middle East, and not a single one has carried out an act of terrorism in the United States.

refugeesunSo, experts, such as Dr Ian Pringle, a global security lecturer from McGill University, says turning away refugees would actually make the US less safe.

“The US has killed thousands of ISIS fighters in its air campaign, and yet the group’s size has been largely unaffected,” Dr Pringle said.

“This means that Islamic State must (be) recruiting new fighters to stay alive. Its recruitment of foreign fighters from the West is based on the notion of this grand ‘caliphate’,” he said.

“Refugees carry a different message though: that the supposed divine kingdom is a fraud and disaster, a total failure. Many have told of the false promises of the ISIS recruiters and the grim conditions,” Dr Pringle said.

He said that accepting refugees denies ISIS resources.

“It has been reported that Islamic State takes in more than $1 million per day in extortion and taxation. It needs a population to exploit.” Dr Pringle said.

“A large number of people are fleeing to avoid this extortion. That’s why ISIS hates the refugees,” he said.

Dr Pringle said refugees also counter ISIS propaganda about the west.

“ISIS propaganda portrays the West as anti-Muslim cabal and that Muslims will be forced to convert to Christianity, in exchange for money or citizenship,” he said.

“Accepting refugees refutes this narrative and it undermines the Islamic State’s credibility and bolsters America and the west’s reputation in the region,” Dr Pringle said.

“Syrian refugees from the areas where ISIS operates are the single best source of information on life inside territory they control.

“Syrian refugees have already given us large amounts of information on ISIS military inventory, leaders, and finances.

“We should view Syrian refugees as allies to our cause. We have a lot to gain from accepting them and much to lose by rejecting them,” Dr Pringle said.

Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist