This week, Germany quietly pulled out of it's little laws that says....if you are a German and join up with an identified terrorist organization in another country, which is on the banned list in Germany...then return to Germany, you will face serious charges (real jail time).
As far as I know, it's the first time that they've shown a willingness to use the law and demonstrate an attitude that you'd best not think about coming back to Germany after you've done something pretty stupid.
The guy in question is from Frankfurt....twenty years old....and reportedly (the local media says it anyway) a trained member of ISIS. The press indicates he spent at least six months in Syria and returned to Germany in the last month or two.
Where this goes? I'm guessing the guy has an active Islamic movement covering his lawyer costs, and seeking to press this upward and have the law thrown out by the German Supreme Court. Naturally, this will take at least eighteen months minimum....maybe even three years. No one has really challenged this law....mostly I think because it's not been used and no real history exists on success or failure.
The odds of the German Supreme Court throwing it out? It is an arbitrary thing about which terror group gets on the banned list and which doesn't make it. The law apparatus utilizes the experts at the BND (the German CIA) and German police standards. Personally, I'd give it a thirty-percent chance of being thrown out.
The implications? That's the curious thing of the story.
Say you were a twenty-two year old German dimwit from Mannheim who got all peppy and hyped up on Islam....ran off to Syria....joined the ISIS movement in the summer of 2013, when they were the 'good-guys'. You are second-generation German, with your parents from Turkey and always unsure of a life path....then found this great moment to help your religious friends fight the evil Assad of Syria.
Then you woke up one day to discover that the Assad war is stalled, and the leadership of ISIS has decided to find new targets outside of Syria to fight. You get frustrated and ask questions.....then realize that this organization is fairly bogus and taking orders from some source you don't trust.
Normally, you'd walk out....take a bus over to Turkey, cross the border.....talk dad into buying a one-way ticket for you back to Germany.....show your passport, and return to a family and home. Now, you hear about this law application, and realize you might get German jail-time for being a member of ISIS. What now? Where can you go, if you realize ISIS is bogus? Your dad's old country....Turkey? Well....you don't speak Turkish, and Turkey probably has an anti-ISIS law as well.
Somewhere else in the Middle East? Other than hiding out in Syria.....you are screwed.
All of this leads back to a young naive dimwit....sitting in a Mosque in Germany.....getting all this hyped-up talk of going off to help fight the war against Assad. You don't think....you don't rationalize the situation.....you don't ask questions.....and you don't really see through the fog to the big picture.
This Frankfurt guy is probably going to spend a couple of years in prison.....maybe five or six. It might clear his head and make him appreciate rational thinking and logical decisions. He might be better off in the end. The sad thing is that he wasted six months in Syria, and will waste a couple of years in prison.....learning an important life lesson about decision making.