The French foreign minister has made a trip to Iraq to attempt to make a deal to try foreign fighters in the country. The plan faces diplomatic obstacles abroad and opposition at home.
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Editor’s Note: Perhaps the biggest counterterrorism challenge facing European states is how to handle their citizens who went to fight in Iraq and Syria and now seek to return. Europe's response has been muddled, with many states reluctant to take responsibility for their nationals yet not advancing an alternative policy. Thomas Renard and Rik Coolsaet of the Egmont Institute assess the problems European states face and outline ways to make the return of foreign fighters less risky and more sustainable.
The White House issued a stunning statement on Oct. 6:
Today, President Donald J. Trump spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey by telephone. Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial “Caliphate,” will no longer be in the immediate area.
Nearly a decade ago, five young men from the Washington, D.C., suburbs disappeared. Confusion about their whereabouts caused a panic within the national security community, which was only made worse by their reappearance a few days later when they were arrested in Pakistan for allegedly attempting to join Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the horrific terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday on churches in Sri Lanka, which killed more than 300 people. It appears that the group may have worked with a local radical Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, mixing the resources and capabilities of both.
Over the past week, Global News Canada has released a series of reports from Syria detailing the detention of Muhammed Ali (aka Abu Turaab Al-Kanadi), a high-profile Canadian Islamic State (ISIS) member, by Kurdish forces inside the country. Journalist Stewart Bell and researcher Amarnath Amarasingam travelled to Syria where they interviewed Ali and several other Canadians held in a makeshift detention center in the northeastern part of the state.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces captured an American-Saudi dual citizen last September suspected to be a member of the Islamic State. Because of his citizenship, he was quickly transferred to Defense Department custody and is being held in Iraq. After nine months of detention and litigation over this U.S.
Editor’s Note: As the Caliphate collapses, many of its foreign volunteers are fleeing Iraq and Syria. A lot of ink has been spilled (some by me, in fact) on the problem of foreign fighters returning home. However, some of these fighters end up in a third country—not in the Caliphate, but not home either—that is not prepared for the problem. Kim Cragin of the National Defense University examines this huge hole in our thinking. She finds a large problem that demands international action.
Editor’s Note: As the Islamic State's territorial control shrinks and its prestige declines, many volunteers will try to find their way home—perhaps to conduct terrorist attacks there on the group's behalf. Colin Clarke of the RAND Corporation argues that one of the most productive ways to identify and disrupt returning fighters is to focus on the criminal underworld. Many foreign fighters began as criminals, and many might turn to crime on their return.
Returned foreign fighters pose a significant terrorism threat to their home countries, but policies that aim to block the flow of foreigners frustrate some of these would-be jihadists. That frustration poses new problems.