The dilemma over how to deal with captured foreign fighters has been brought into the spotlight. Reuters
The dilemma over how to deal with captured foreign fighters has been brought into the spotlight. Reuters

Foreign fighters must not be left in legal limbo. They must be brought to justice

The US-led coalition to defeat ISIL has accomplished a significant victory by driving the militants from their strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa, thereby depriving them of their dream of establishing their so-called caliphate. But now that the military campaign is winding down, a new and equally challenging problem has arisen: namely, what to do with the hundreds of foreign fighters who have been captured and are now being held by the American-backed Syrian Defence Forces.

The dilemma over how to deal with captured ISIL fighters has been brought into the spotlight by James Mattis, the US Defence Secretary, who has sparked a diplomatic rift with Britain over the fate of two members of the so-called "Beatles", a group of British extremists who were responsible for some of the most gruesome acts of violence perpetrated in ISIL's name.

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who are originally from west London, are reported to have been captured while attempting to flee across the Syrian border following the collapse of ISIL’s stronghold in Raqqa. It has been suggested the men may have been trying to return to Britain to commit further acts of violence.

Kotey and Elsheikh are said to be members of the “Beatles”, a group of violent men who were given the nickname because of their strong British accents. They are accused of carrying out torture and summary executions, such as those of British aid worker David Haines and American journalist Steve Foley.

Mohammed Emwazi, the group's notorious leader who was also known as "Jihadi John" and was filmed in numerous videos carrying out beheadings, is believed to have been killed in a coalition airstrike in November 2015. A fourth member is serving a prison sentence in Turkey on terrorism charges.

The controversy over what to do with Kotey and Elsheikh, as well as the hundreds of other foreign fighters being held by the SDF, has surfaced as a result of the British government’s decision to withdraw their British passports, thereby rendering them stateless. Nor is Britain the only country that is trying to wash its hands of extremists. ISIL fighters from as far afield as Russia, Europe, China, Japan and a number of Arab countries are currently being held in detention, and none of their home countries appears to want them back.

The attitude of most governments has been succinctly summed up by British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who said earlier this week, “I don’t think they should ever set foot in this country again. They turned their back on Britain, our values and everything we stand for — they are the worst of the worst.”

But while this adequately sums up the attitude of countries who have seen their citizens abandon their homes and families to wage jihad on behalf of ISIL, it does not answer the thorny problem of how to deal with captured fighters who now find themselves stateless.

In many respects it is a rerun of the dilemma another US-led coalition faced following its initial military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 to destroy Al Qaeda and its allies in the wake of the September 11 attacks. While the military campaign itself was a great success - Al Qaeda and its Taliban backers were routed within a matter of weeks - the aftermath proved more problematic, particularly Washington’s treatment of the hundreds of foreign fighters who were captured fighting for Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Because many of these fighters had no known country of origin, and due to the immense difficulties the US and its allies faced acquiring enough evidence on the battlefield to bring a successful prosecution, those deemed to be the most dangerous fighters were transferred to America's Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, where a number of them remain to this day.

While it might have appeared a practical solution to an intractable problem at the time, in the long-term the whole Guantanamo issue has turned out to be self-defeating for the US and its allies owing to the widespread international criticism it has attracted.

Even so, there has been talk in some Washington circles of sending some of the captured fighters in Syria to Guantanamo, not least because US President Donald Trump spoke of his desire to send foreign fighters to the detention facility when he was campaigning for the White House.

So long as Mr Trump remains president, this possibility cannot be ruled out, it is now clear that senior members of his national security staff, many of whom had to deal with the fall-out from the Guantanamo controversy when they were serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, have no desire to repeat the mistake.

This certainly seems to be the case with Mr Mattis, a former Marine general who commanded coalition forces in both conflicts. Speaking in Rome earlier this week, he called on the host nations of captured fighters to accept responsibility for their citizens and put them on trial.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said. “The important thing is that the countries of origin keep responsibility for them.”

Mr Mattis certainly has a point. If the US and its allies want to maintain the moral high ground in the war against Islamist-inspired extremism, then they must bring those suspected of committing heinous crimes to justice, rather than abandoning them in a legal limbo.

Con Coughlin is the Daily Telegraph’s Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Retail gloom

Online grocer Ocado revealed retail sales fell 5.7 per cen in its first quarter as customers switched back to pre-pandemic shopping patterns.

It was a tough comparison from a year earlier, when the UK was in lockdown, but on a two-year basis its retail division, a joint venture with Marks&Spencer, rose 31.7 per cent over the quarter.

The group added that a 15 per cent drop in customer basket size offset an 11.6. per cent rise in the number of customer transactions.

Ruwais timeline

1971 Abu Dhabi National Oil Company established

1980 Ruwais Housing Complex built, located 10 kilometres away from industrial plants

1982 120,000 bpd capacity Ruwais refinery complex officially inaugurated by the founder of the UAE Sheikh Zayed

1984 Second phase of Ruwais Housing Complex built. Today the 7,000-unit complex houses some 24,000 people.  

1985 The refinery is expanded with the commissioning of a 27,000 b/d hydro cracker complex

2009 Plans announced to build $1.2 billion fertilizer plant in Ruwais, producing urea

2010 Adnoc awards $10bn contracts for expansion of Ruwais refinery, to double capacity from 415,000 bpd

2014 Ruwais 261-outlet shopping mall opens

2014 Production starts at newly expanded Ruwais refinery, providing jet fuel and diesel and allowing the UAE to be self-sufficient for petrol supplies

2014 Etihad Rail begins transportation of sulphur from Shah and Habshan to Ruwais for export

2017 Aldar Academies to operate Adnoc’s schools including in Ruwais from September. Eight schools operate in total within the housing complex.

2018 Adnoc announces plans to invest $3.1 billion on upgrading its Ruwais refinery 

2018 NMC Healthcare selected to manage operations of Ruwais Hospital

2018 Adnoc announces new downstream strategy at event in Abu Dhabi on May 13

Source: The National

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others


Director: Michael Mann

Starring: Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Patrick Dempsey

Rating: 3/5

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

UAE central contracts

Full time contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Usman, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Sultan Ahmed, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Waheed Ahmed, Zawar Farid

Part time contracts

Aryan Lakra, Ansh Tandon, Karthik Meiyappan, Rahul Bhatia, Alishan Sharafu, CP Rizwaan, Basil Hameed, Matiullah, Fahad Nawaz, Sanchit Sharma

Financial considerations before buying a property

Buyers should try to pay as much in cash as possible for a property, limiting the mortgage value to as little as they can afford. This means they not only pay less in interest but their monthly costs are also reduced. Ideally, the monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 20 per cent of the purchaser’s total household income, says Carol Glynn, founder of Conscious Finance Coaching.

“If it’s a rental property, plan for the property to have periods when it does not have a tenant. Ensure you have enough cash set aside to pay the mortgage and other costs during these periods, ideally at least six months,” she says. 

Also, shop around for the best mortgage interest rate. Understand the terms and conditions, especially what happens after any introductory periods, Ms Glynn adds.

Using a good mortgage broker is worth the investment to obtain the best rate available for a buyer’s needs and circumstances. A good mortgage broker will help the buyer understand the terms and conditions of the mortgage and make the purchasing process efficient and easier. 

The biog

Profession: Senior sports presenter and producer

Marital status: Single

Favourite book: Al Nabi by Jibran Khalil Jibran

Favourite food: Italian and Lebanese food

Favourite football player: Cristiano Ronaldo

Languages: Arabic, French, English, Portuguese and some Spanish




SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)


Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends


Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
Max torque: 950Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Battery: 25.7kWh lithium-ion
0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
Top speed: 312km/h
Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
On sale: Q3
Price: From Dh1.2m (estimate)

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Abaya trends

The utilitarian robe held dear by Arab women is undergoing a change that reveals it as an elegant and graceful garment available in a range of colours and fabrics, while retaining its traditional appeal.


Directors: Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn
Stars: Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, Alan Tudyk
Rating: 3.5/5