As the Islamic State clings to its last slivers of territory in Syria, the world is starting to grapple with a problem: Some of the 40,000 Islamic State supporters who migrated to the fight in Iraq and Syria are returning home. A study by the Soufan Center and the Global Strategy Network has tracked 5,600 fighters who have returned to their home countries.
These countries haven’t figured out how to address the returnees. Many are imprisoned, while others may be rehabilitated. These rehabilitation programs are difficult to design and run. Returning women and children born while their parents fought in Iraq and Syria present other challenges for re-integration.
While the returning fighters have not been directly responsible for any terror attacks or threats, they serve as an inspiration or model for those who might become radicalized or are becoming radicalized.