Far Too Many British Citizens Have Pledged Allegiance to ISIS

Returning jihadis are traitors and are guilty of treason, yet look at how they're coddled, given government benefits and more

The last Briton to be hanged for the crime of treason was actually a German citizen of Irish heritage — who was born in Brooklyn and falsely claimed British nationality to get a passport. William Joyce, otherwise known as “Lord Haw-Haw,” was really the first person executed for the crime of making a false passport application.

Joyce had been a member of the British Union of Fascists, or “Black Shirts,” the pre-war organization founded by the former Labour government Minister Sir Oswald Mosley.

Joyce’s crime, and the reason for his execution, was that he was in Nazi Germany during the war, broadcasting for the Germans. He earned the nickname “Lord Haw-Haw” because of the upper-class twang of his accent, even though he was from distinctly humble roots. As a British passport holder, he was a traitor and was aiding and abetting the enemy — the later discussions about his rather convoluted heritage notwithstanding.

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In Great Britain, despite being changed and amended many times, the Treason Act of 1351 is still on the statute books, and one category of treason in particular would seem to be as relevant in 2017 as it was back in 1351. A person could be tried for treason if he or she were accused of being “adherent to the King’s enemies in his realm, giving them aid and comfort in the realm, or elsewhere.”

Between 800 and 1,000 British citizens — passport holders who owe allegiance, by virtue of their nationality whether born or naturalized, to Her Majesty the Queen and the country of Great Britain — have been fighting in Iraq and Syria for the Islamic State, or ISIS. The British Secret Service Agency MI5 has found that at least 20,000 other Islamists living in Britain are considered potential terrorists. These figures are staggering and would, if common sense rather than political correctness or cowardice prevailed, be reason to have Britain on a war footing, with all the necessary legal measures necessary to defeat this clear and present danger.

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It is estimated that, already, at least half the British jihadi fighters have returned to the U.K., the land that educated them, nursed them when sick and, in many instances, actually paid them government benefits as they radicalized and prepared to go and fight for an enemy dedicated to the destruction of the West.

One of the British government’s terror “experts” recently called some of the young jihadis “naïve” and spoke of their not needing to face penalties when they returned. Presumably, the “experts” also believe that men and women who kept sex slaves, beheaded captives and burned prisoners alive will return to Britain to play cricket, drink warm beer, and become model citizens of the country they hate — and it’s the jihadis who are, apparently, naïve.

Now, it has been reported by, among others, the Daily Mail online, that the government has a top-secret strategy, titled “Operation Constrain,” to deal effectively with the returning jihadi menace. Among other suggestions, this brilliant strategy thought up by a member of the liberal equivalent of the “Black Shorts” will offer returning terrorists accelerated access to housing and help in finding jobs and other benefits. It’s quite magnificent — what could possibly go wrong?

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One British government minister, Rory Stewart, an ex-Army officer and onetime tutor to both Prince William and Prince Harry, gave a more appropriate response to the problem of British jihadis. Critically, he said, they had moved from “any kind of allegiance toward the British Government,” and, in fact, the “only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them.”

Treason is all about allegiance: One of the first things foreign fighters did on arrival in Syria or Iraq, as did all the “lone wolf” terrorists, was to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. British citizens who fought for ISIS were “adherent to the King’s enemies … giving them aid in the realm — or elsewhere!”

Returning jihadis are traitors: They are guilty of treason. Unfortunately the death penalty for treason has been abolished — even Rory Stewart was speaking of the need to kill them before they returned — so if we can’t “hang ’em high,” can we at least try them for treason, lock them up and throw away the key?

Fr. Benedict Kiely is a Catholic priest and founder of, which is helping the persecuted Christians of the Middle East. 

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