London: Some Islamic State recruits who do not have "blood on their hands" and have returned to their home countries in Europe from Syria and Iraq should be enrolled to combat the dreaded terror group, a senior European Union counter-terrorism official has said.
Gilles de Kerchove, EU's Counter-terrorism Coordinator, said that in cases where they were not considered a threat, such people could be used by governments to reveal details of the brutal conditions within the so-called caliphate of ISIS.
"Some returnees who don't have 'blood on their hands' are a strong credible voice for counter-narrative purposes," Kerchove said.
"They can explain what they have experienced, that they thought they were joining a nice idea of the caliphate but encountered people sexually abusing others, or being violent, he was quoted as saying by 'The Observer'.
He added that a blanket criminalisation of all individuals returning from Syria and Iraq was unproductive.
"If there is no evidence that they are an active jihadi for instance, they crossed the border and spent a week with the organisation but were really just washing dishes, a fourth-rank footsoldier, then saw people beheaded and rushed to leave, saying, 'I made a big mistake' is it really worth putting them on the trail that leads to prison "Prisons are major incubators of radicalisation," Kerchove said.
"Therefore, if you can avoid prison for those who do not have blood on their hands and are genuinely ready to engage in a rehabilitation programme, why don't we try alternatives?" he said.
It is estimated that around 30,000 people from 100 countries have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and other extremist groups.
More than 800 individuals have travelled from the UK to fight around half of whom are believed to have since returned.
"Decisions on people who return from Syria and Iraq are taken on a case-by-case basis. Some may have been exposed to traumatic experiences," said a UK Home Office spokesperson.