On 1st February 2016, Tareena Shakil, a British woman who took her toddler to join ISIS, was jailed for six years for terrorism offences after returning from Syria. Shakil claims to have realised she made a mistake and returned of her own accord, indicating that she may have previously been indoctrinated, but became disillusioned. But is it just that she fled what she finally came to see as imprisonment, only to face further imprisonment back in her home country? It is true she broke the law, but just as the British government formulated the ‘Prevent’ strategy, surely they can come up with more effective means of dealing with failure to ‘prevent.’ One example is restorative justice, which involves reintegrating Shakil into British society rather than further ostracising her and condemning her to a life potentially as dangerous as that in Syria, and the breakdown of her family.
However, one cannot view this in a vacuum. One must consider the wider political implications of such circumstances, namely national security. It is the role of the British government to contain threats to national security, and unless incredibly thorough strategies are formulated to reintegrate ex-radicals into society safeguarding citizens’ security, people would view Shakil’s release into society as negligence of the national cause. However, it would be very costly and require great resources to enact such programmes. One must also consider what a vulnerable figure Shakil has rendered herself, and how she, too may need protection from a betrayed British society, and ISIS threats for absconding.