Government's response to 'Kiwi Jihadi' Mark Taylor's re-emergence praised by international relations expert

The Government's suggestion that so-called 'Kiwi Jihadi' Mark Taylor could face legal action if he returns to New Zealand has been praised by a top international relations expert.

On Monday, it was reported that the New Zealander, who lived with extremists for five years, had been jailed in a Kurdish prison after surrendering due to having little resources to live on.

"There was no food, no money; basic services were pretty much collapsed. I was in a pickle myself and had to make a final decision, which was to leave," ABC News reported him as saying.

In her post-Cabinet press conference on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that if Taylor managed to return to New Zealand, he could face legal action.

"It is unlawful to join and fight for a terrorist organisation, such as Mark Taylor has done.

"His actions in joining ISIS and travelling to Syria to fight for them has created the potential for legal ramifications in New Zealand."

As New Zealand has no consulate in Syria, Taylor would have to travel to another country to find help. Ms Ardern also said the Government was not obligated to fund his return.

The Government's response to the reports has been welcomed by international relations expert Rob Patman.

"I think the Government struck the right tone personally. They don't rule out the possibility of him coming back to New Zealand, but he will be subject to the rules of this country," he told Newshub.

He also suggested that any suggestion of helping to bring back Taylor might not go down well with the public.

"For many New Zealanders, it will be difficult to say 'we should bring this person back, and pay for their detention and their treatment and for them to be a part of New Zealand again'."

But Green Party Justice spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said if New Zealand is presented with the opportunity, we should cooperate in bringing him home.

"If there is a process that gets adopted by the UN or the Kurdish forces put in place a process where they are deporting these people, I think we should cooperate with that.

"The people trying to rid Syria of ISIS have asked that if they happen to be foreign fighters, that the country that these people are from actually help with that. That is a tiny thing that we could do. We just need to cooperate with whatever process that they adopt."

Taylor's re-emergence follows media coverage of British IS (Islamic State) bride Shamima Begum pleading to return to England after years in Syria.

The British Home Office eventually revoked her citizenship, but claimed doing so didn't leave the woman stateless, which is not allowed under international law.

Mr Patman said New Zealand shouldn't consider a similar decision.

"If every country followed the British model, or at least in that one case, then we would have a pool of stateless people in the Middle East, which would only add to the problems of an already very troubled region."

A spokesperson for the Department of Internal Affairs told Newshub that Taylor is still a New Zealand citizen by birth right.

"Mr Taylor is a New Zealand citizen abroad and, as the Department understands it, he has no current valid issue New Zealand passport or travel document," a spokesperson said.

"The Department is aware of allegations of his previous passport having been deliberately destroyed."

If Taylor decided to attempt to return home, he may find it difficult.

"Any application from Mr Taylor to renew any travel document would be carefully considered, given his circumstances."

The US marked Taylor a global terrorist in 2015 after he appeared in an IS propaganda video and encouraged attacks in Australia and New Zealand.

He said for the five years he was with the group he was never a fighter, but had been deployed as a guard.

"I was helping to guard a border between the Syrian Government and the Islamic State," he told ABC News.

"There's a difference between fighting and guarding. Guarding you don't need to plan anything; attacking you need to make preparations."

In 2009 he was arrested in Pakistan for trying to gain access to Al Qaeda.

He also spent 50 days in an IS prison after forgetting to turn off a geo-tagging function on a tweet, giving away his location.