What will happen to the foreign fighters who traveled to Iraq and Syria to combat the Islamic State?
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How did the small island nation wind up with one of the highest rates of recruitment for the Islamic State?
Threats new and old, at home and from abroad.
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.
It has been almost three weeks since the president ordered the precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeast Syria. The move allowed the Turkish military and its proxies to swiftly invade the area, setting off a cascade of events that has forced America’s Syrian-Kurdish partners to strike a deal with the Assad regime, exposed Kurdish soldiers and civilians to a barrage of attacks, enabled more than 100 ISIS fighters to escape Kurdish detention facilities, and facilitated the growth of Russian and Iranian influence in the region.
In the aftermath of the successful operation against Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the fact that the Trump administration gave advance notice to the Russian government and possibly also to some Republican lawmakers—but not to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff or other Democratic lawmakers—is attracting criticism. Is the criticism warranted? Not from a legal perspective. But it’s complicated from there.
On Oct. 27, President Trump announced the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. raid. Video of the announcement is available below.
President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from observation posts in northeastern Syria has paved the way for Turkey’s military offensive into areas inhabited by Syrian Kurds and other minority communities. In a little over two weeks, this region has gone from relative stability to a state of conflict, uncertainty and fragility. Since 2016 we have conducted hundreds of interviews with Syrians from all backgrounds, including current and former members of the Islamic State. We filmed and catalogued the rise of the Islamic State across the region and the caliphate’s subsequent demise.
Afghan intelligence officials reportedly captured a deputy leader of the Islamic State-Khorasan (the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, also referred to as ISK) near the city of Herat in September. Herat is more than 1,000 kilometers west of ISK’s stronghold in Nangarhar province, and much of Herat province and the surrounding region is contested by the Taliban.
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.