European governments have been warned for years to be prepared for some dreaded homecomings — radicalized citizens returning from “Islamic State” (IS) war zones. As the global coalition retakes territory that IS once claimed as its “caliphate,” some fighters who hold European passports are expected to make full use of them.
Belgium is the European country with the highest per capita number of so-called foreign terrorist fighters and the prospect of weapons-trained, ideologically hostile individuals showing up back in their old neighborhoods makes everyone nervous. Earlier returnees trying to start anew refuse to discuss their reintegration.
Antwerp City Councillor Hicham El Mzairh has tried to get returnees to speak out publicly, including to DW, in part to convince other Belgians not to follow in their footsteps. But none have been willing to come forward.