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PM says NZ can't make Kiwi Jihadist stateless: 'He's our problem'

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 5 March 2019, 8:23AM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says "Kiwi Jihadist" Mark Taylor is "our problem" whether we like it or not.

Taylor is among a half-dozen or so New Zealanders thought to have joined the Islamic State. He remains a citizen, but New Zealand officials say his detention abroad in Syria and apparent lack of travel documents are obstacles to his return and he may face legal consequences for his actions.

Jacinda Ardern told Mike Hosking New Zealand won't be helping bring him home.

When asked what she was going to do about Taylor, Ardern said, "nothing".

"We gave very clear advice no one should leave for Syria. I don't think you could make it any clearer New Zealand's views around associating with a known terrorist organisation."

"We have no presence in Syria, no connection with the forces detaining him and I'm not going to put New Zealanders in harm's way to change either of those scenarios."

However, the Prime Minister said New Zealand doesn't have the ability to make anyone stateless, meaning if he makes his way back we can't deny him his citizenship.

"If someone came to New Zealand, who was not a New Zealand citizen and engaged in terrorist acts, we would take a very dim view of any country who then removed his citizenship and made that person our problem."

"We do have an obligation not to strip someone's single citizenship from them because that would make them stateless," Ardern said.

"He is our problem, we have to accept that. So if he returns to New Zealand then we have the means to make sure that we keep New Zealand safe."

She said there are a number of legislative options for dealing with Taylor.

Mark Taylor previously told journalists he regretted not being able to afford a slave and expects to return home.

Known by the Twitter handle "Kiwi Jihadi", Taylor notoriously forgot to turn off Twitter's geotagging function in 2014, alerting outsiders to the location of Islamic State fighters.

Taylor told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from a Kurdish prison that after five years with the Islamic State, he fled in December and surrendered to Kurdish forces because life had become unbearable. He said there was no food or money and basic services had collapsed.

Taylor said he wasn't a fighter and instead worked for the group as a guard on the border between the Islamic State and Syrian government forces. He said he was jailed three times by Islamic State, including once for 50 days over the geotagging incident.

He said he witnessed beheadings and executions.

"They had a lady they took out of a truck and shot her in the back of the head," Taylor told the ABC. "There was a big crowd gathering around. I asked, 'What's going on?' but no one answered."

Taylor said he regretted not being able to afford a Yazidi slave. The Islamic State took thousands of Yazidi women and girls as sex slaves, viewing female members of the religious minority as heretics worthy of subjugation and rape.

"To buy a slave, you're looking at least $4000 American to buy an older woman, at least past 50 years old," he told ABC. "And to buy a decent one, at least (US) $10,000 or $20,000."

Taylor said he got stuck being married to two Syrian women, and that neither relationship worked out.

"I'm sorry for causing too much trouble and being a bit hot-headed and flamboyant in my approach. I don't know if I can go back to New Zealand, but at the end of the day it's really something I have to live with for the rest of my life."

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