By ADRIAN PEEL FOR MAILONLINE –‘I’m a jihadist, get me out of here,’ would appear to be the cry from disillusioned Westerners who joined Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in the Middle East and who are now – in increasing numbers – pleading with their respective governments to help them return home,
‘Some have turned up at diplomatic missions in Turkey and others have sent furtive messages to their governments seeking assistance in escaping from territory the extremist group controls in neighboring Syria,’ reported The Wall Street Journal, citing Western diplomats and a Syrian network set up to help defectors.
This isn’t what I signed up for: Western Jihadis are apparently turning their backs on ISIS in increasing numbers
Defectors from the West have pleaded succour from the countries and the families on whom they turned their backs as ISIS is reportedly losing territory and manpower in both Iraq and Syria.
Pro-Islamic fighters are also facing a new assault from American-backed armed forces and the Russian-allied regime of Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad.
‘Father, help me,’ a female teenager from Europe allegedly wrote to her father in a text message around six months ago. ‘I want to get out. But I now have a small child.’
The girl had travelled to Raqqa, Syria – ISIS’ de facto capital – in 2013 to join up with the hardline organisation.
According to the diplomats cited in the Wall Street Journal report, an estimated 150 citizens from six countries have begged for assistance in helping them escape.
Others have managed to make their own way back since the number of departures began to increase in autumn last year.
‘The overall number of Westerners who joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and then returned home is unknown, but Western officials have said several a hundred fighters have come back to Europe,’ said The Wall Street Journal.
ISIS does not take kindly to people defecting from its ranks, meting out harsh punishments – such as decapitations – to those caught trying to abandon the cause.
Government officials who allow former terrorists who claim to have rejected ISIS and other terrorist groups back into the countries they left face a constant threat from the jihadist group.
The WSJ says that jihadists hell-bent on causing mayhem and destruction will pose as refugees and defectors in an attempt to enter Western nations.
This led to last year’s deadly terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, which were linked to terrorists with connections to ISIS who had come into Europe posing as Syrian refugees.
In November 2015, the House Committee on Homeland Security warned that members of ISIS and other like-minded groups are ‘determined to infiltrate Syrian refugee flows’ into the United States and other Western countries.
President Barack Obama, however, has continued to allow increasing numbers of Syrian refugees into the United States.
In September 2015, the same committee reported that at least ‘several dozen’ American ISIS fighters (an exact figure was not given) were able to sneak back into the United States without being arrested or put under surveillance.
As reported by the Associated Press (AP), FBI Director James Comey warned Tuesday that as far as its efforts to recruit fighters to carry out jihad overseas and launch attacks in the US is concerned, ISIS is America’s main threat.
Comey observed that the number of FBI cases linked to ISIS has not decreased, stating that the ‘FBI is continuing to focus on the Islamic State group, and there are close to 1,000 open cases nationwide involving people at various stages of recruitment.’
Comey emphasised that fewer Americans are travelling abroad to fight alongside the terrorist organisation and suggested that the misplaced allure that inspired curiosity, unwavering devotion and fanaticism has been almost entirely eradicated.
The overall number of foreign fighters travelling to fight alongside ISIS in its so-called Caliphate in Iraq and Syria has dropped by 75 per cent over the past year, to nearly 500 a month, according to the Pentagon.
Analysts and political figures in the Obama administration have said that the group has recently lost both territory and fighters.
According to a report released in March by the liberal Centre for American Progress (CAP) think tank, based in the American capital of Washington DC, ‘An estimated 27,000 to 31,000 foreign fighters from at least 86 countries have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Islamic State and other extremist groups.
‘Around 4,250 of these foreign fighters are European and a further 250 are American.’
CAP said its sources for this information were The Soufan Group, a New York-based consultancy firm, and the House Committee on Homeland Security.
While ISIS appears to have shrunk in Iraq and Syria, their presence has dramatically increased in places such as Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Egypt.