On Wednesday, President Trump sent a stern message to European leaders: if the countries from which captured ISIS fighters came don’t take them back, he’ll air drop them into Europe.
As The Daily Mail reported, Trump told reporters, “We’re holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now, and Europe has to take them. We beat them. We captured them. We’ve got thousands of them. And now, as usual, our allies say, ‘Oh. no. We don’t want them.’ Even though they came from France and Germany and other places. We’re going to tell them and we’ve already told them, ‘Take these prisoners that we’ve captured because the United States is not going to put them in Guantanamo for the next 50 years and pay for it.’ If Europe doesn’t take them, then I have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came, which is Germany, and France, and other places.” He concluded, “It’s moving along, my deadline. They know.”
Hours later, the president repeated his assertion before a group of veterans in Kentucky, saying, “Certain countries in Europe, they’ve got to take them back. Because we don’t want to hold them. They’d rather have us hold them, and let us have them for 50 years. We don’t want them. They should take them. Do we agree? They should take them? They say to us, ‘Why don’t you hold them in Guantanamo Bay for 50 years and you just hold them and spend billions and billions of dollars holding them.’ And I’m saying, ‘No, you gotta take them.’”
In early August, Trump stated, “We have thousands of ISIS fighters that we want Europe to take, and let’s see if they take them. If they don’t take them, we’ll probably have to release them to Europe.” NBC News reported at the time, “Experts estimate U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces hold some 800 European ISIS fighters in makeshift prisons, but the mostly Kurdish militia group is struggling to maintain them more than four months after ISIS lost the last significant part of its so-called caliphate.”