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New Zealand Says Recruitment of Islamic State to Remain a Citizen Could be Prosecuted

WELLINGTON – A New Zealander detained in Syria after joining Islamic State’s militant group will not be stripped of his citizenship, but could face criminal charges if he returns, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday.
New Zealand is the latest in several countries, from Australia to the United States to Great Britain, facing legal and security challenges in dealing with former members of the United States, a radical group who had vowed to destroy the West.
Mark Taylor, who visited Syria in 2014, told the Australian broadcaster ABC, that he expected to be sentenced to prison if he returned New Zealand.
Taylor’s integration into the group is illegal and could have legal ramifications, Ardern added, adding that his government would provide him with a travel document to return, if possible.
“We had long-standing plans in place where a New Zealander citizen supporting ISIS in Syria would come back,” Ardern told reporters, using another name for the group.
“Taylor has only New Zealand citizenship and the government has an obligation not to make people stateless.”
Ardern said the officials had identified the fact that a small number of New Zealanders had joined the IS, but had refused to give an exact number.
New Zealand law allows for the revocation of citizenship only in limited situations, said Ardern, adding that the government could not make stateless people without dual citizenship.
Officials had told Taylor that he would have to travel to a country where New Zealand is present diplomatically, such as Turkey, to receive an emergency travel document, said Ardern, adding that it would be difficult since he is in detention.
In an interview broadcast on Monday, Taylor told ABC that he had been working as a guard for the group for five years and that he had been detained in his jail several times, including misleading information about his whereabout residence in 2015.
He also appeared in an IS promotional video that year, calling for attacks on the ANZAC Day celebrations in Australia and New Zealand.
Taylor told ABC that he had witnessed executions in the group and was sorry for that.
“I do not know if I can go back to New Zealand, but at the end of the day, it’s really something I have to live with all my life,” he said.
In February, Britain announced that it was revoking that the citizenship of Shamima Begum, 19, who had left London with two school friends to join at the age of 15, but now wanted to return with his newborn son.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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