Jihadists Return, Problems Escalate

return jihadist problem
Tunisia: protest against the return of Jihadists
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5600 terrorists, who fought in the ranks of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, have already returned to their countries of origin, as stated in the think tank Soufan Group report.



After the fall of ISIS, the return of the next few thousands of those who survive is to be expected. Roughly around thousand people has already returned to both Tunisia and Turkey and a few hundreds to the United Kingdom, Germany and France.


Since 2014, about 40,000 foreign terrorists have arrived in the Islamic State  – most came from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Tunisia. 5,000 people came from Europe for jihad, mainly from France, Germany, Great Britain and Belgium. Most of them have probably already been killed.


There are no exact data, but General Raymond Thomas, the Special Operations commander, said that between 60,000 and 70,000 terrorists from ISIS were killed in total; a significant amount of whom was from abroad. Even if only a little more than a third of jihadist survived, still at least two thousand jihadists will return to Europe, and more than a dozen thousand to other countries.


Returning terrorists pose a serious problem for the security services. It can be expected that most of them will try to continue their terrorist activities on the spot – six of terrorists responsible for Paris attacks had belonged to ISIS as well as three out of five from attacks in Brussel. However, imprisoning returning  terrorists is not easy.


In a large number of European countries, the criminal regulations against joining terrorist organizations were introduced as lat as in 2015 and 2016, after the majority of jihadists already left for Syria, so they can not be held responsible, as the law is not retroactive. On the other hand, prosecution of specific crimes committed in Syria and Iraq is very difficult; even if there is an adequate intelligence data, they are not suitable or cannot be presented in the court.


Therefore, most of the returning jihadists will not be punished at all, or will receive very light sentences and will be out of prison very soon. Monitoring thousands of jihadists may turn out to be too difficult for overloaded European special services. Deradicalisation programs for Islamic radicals have little effect – France decided to close its centres of deradicalization, as the first program proved to be a complete fiasco.


Non-European countries are threatened with terrorism not only by their returning citizens but also jihadists from other countries who are afraid of returning to their homeland – for example to Russia. Mainly Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan are at risk, with strong local terrorist groups declaring fidelity to Islamic State; the danger of destabilization also threatens Tunisia, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, to which a total of several thousand terrorists will return.


The imminent fall of the Islamic State will not imply a reduction of the danger of terrorism, but on the contrary, it may redound the severity of terrorist attacks in the Europe and Africa.


Grzegorz Lindenberg


The Polish Original Dżihadyści wracają, problemy narastają

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