Something completely differentIt was officially confirmed that a Korean 18-year-old surnamed Kim, who went missing last month at a Turkish border crossing with Syria, is being trained by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical Sunni Muslim group. Lee Byung-kee, head of the National Intelligence Service, affirmed this at a full meeting of the Intelligence Committee of the National Assembly yesterday. His remarks turned the police’s assumption - that the young man had voluntarily entered Syria to join the extremist group - into a fact. That’s shocking because it’s the first case of a Korean national joining a terrorist group overseas.
The international community is infuriated by the fanatical sect’s outrageous acts of terrorism, as seen in its brutal beheadings of a number of innocent hostages and burning of some of them alive. Yet members of the young generation around the globe want to join the brutal group after being successfully cajoled into taking part in a heinous crusade against the rest of the world. Among the approximately 35,000 members of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, about 20,000, or 57 percent, are thought to hail from foreign countries.
That’s why the United Nations Security Council defined those who leave their homelands for other countries with the goal of committing terrorist acts or receiving training for such mission as “foreign terrorist fighters” and urged UN member nations to take strong actions to block their movement, entry or stopovers.
Our government took the position that existing laws can address such worries. For instance, Article 111 of the Criminal Law stipulates that those who engage in an individual combat against any foreign government without authorization of the head of state be sentenced to more than a year in prison, albeit without forced labor. The criminal law also levies less than three years in prison or up to 5 million won ($4,552) in a fine on those who prepare or conspire to commit such acts.
However, the law was enacted without this new type of terrorists in mind. The law has never been applied in this country. Another criminal law dubbed “Crime of Criminal Ring Organization” also mostly applies to local organized gangs. Now that it has become apparent that ISIS is not such a distant threat, the government must come up with preemptive and proactive measures to deal with the group’s penetration into our country. The threat of punishment can hardly stop the violent group from reaching the nation, so the government must enact a terror prevention law before it’s too late. It must do its best to avoid another terrible case involving Korean youngsters down the road.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 26, Page 30