Germany does all it can to avoid taking back ISIS members

Germany is rapidly changing the country’s laws to avoid repatriating German citizen ISIS members captured by the YPG. Government partners have agreed to pass a law that would void the German citizenship of ISIS members who are dual citizens.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of Merkel’s party Christian Democratic Union (CDU), called on Minister of Justice Katerina Barley to void the German citizenships of ISIS members who are dual citizens, as the CDU/CSU front wants to get rid of the dual citizens who joined ISIS from Germany.

Alexander Dobrindt, administrator in the Christian Social Union (CSU) the sister party of the CDU, targeted Barley and called to hinder the passing of the law. With a final push from Kramp-Karrenbauer, Minister Barley from the other partner in the government the Social Democratic Party (SPD) hurried up and voted “yes” on the proposal she previously objected to. According to a joint story by the NDR, WDR and Suddeutsche Zeitung newspapers, the Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (who prepared the proposal) and the Minister of Justice Barley came to an agreement.

The coalition agreement of the fourth Merkel government which took office last year foresaw that dual citizens who went abroad to join any terrorist organization would be stripped of their German citizenship, but the issue had been shelved for a long time. That is, until US President Trump called on Germany and other European countries to “take back their citizens and put them on trial”.


The proposal to amend Article 129 of Germany’s constitution is expected to be voted on in the Federal Parliament in the coming days. The amendment that will strip individuals with dual citizenship who join any organizations deemed a “terrorist organization” of their German citizenship and prevent them from returning to Germany has the following 3 conditions:

-The German citizenship will only be voided if the individual holds another citizenship. Because the UN Declaration of Human Rights, signed by Germany, prevents individuals from being left “stateless”.

-The individual to be stripped of their citizenship has to be of age. Minors will not be stripped of their citizenship rights.

-The law will not be retroactively implemented. As such, it will only apply to those who are currently ISIS members in the field.

The expected framework for the method Minister of Justice Barley calls “compatible with the rule of law” is as stated, but it is unclear what percentage of ISIS members currently captured alive will be affected by these 3 conditions. The known number of ISIS member German citizens in prisons in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Greece is 70.

But the number is certain to increase drastically after the final operation by the YPG/SDF is completed in Deir ez-Zor. Officials from Rojava Kurdistan announced that they are holding over 200 German citizens, most of whom are women and children, with over 50 of these individuals being ISIS members who had been actively participating in the war.


If the law to void dual citizenships passes as is, it won’t only affect ISIS members, as the proposal says “any organizations deemed terrorist”, and as such, which organizations it will include will vary according to the Interior Ministry’s stance.

The German left frequently voices the concern that German citizens with dual citizenship who left Germany to fight in the ranks of the YPG/YPJ against ISIS gangs might be affected by the law. The YPG is not listed as a “terrorist organization” in Germany, but the Interior Ministry did issue a notice in March 2017 and banned YPG/YPJ flags as well. Many YPG/YPJ members have also been investigated upon their return to Germany.