Across Europe and America, governments and intelligence officials are struggling to address the problem of Western Muslims who join the jihad in Syria – and then come back home again. But in the process, they may be missing the bigger threat: the ones who never left.
Counterterrorism experts agree that the danger posed by returning jihadists is significant: already radicalized before they joined groups like the Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), they are now well-trained in the practice of terrorist warfare. Unlike most Westerners, they have overcome any discomfort they may have previously felt about killing or confronting death. Chances are, they’ve already done it.