Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Europe's dilemma - how to deal with returning jihadists
By Michel MOUTOT with AFP's European bureaus
Paris (AFP) June 16, 2017

Europe is struggling to respond to the challenge posed by the thousands of jihadists who travelled to the battlefields of Syria or Iraq and have now begun to return home.

Of the around 27,000 foreign fighters believed to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to take up arms alongside extremist groups such as the Islamic State, around 5,000-6,000 are estimated to be European.

But with some slipping in and out of Europe unnoticed, the exact figure is unknown.

The EU's anti-terrorism coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, believes that between 2,000 and 2,500 European nationals or residents are still in the Middle East but are likely to return as anti-IS fighters close in on the jihadists' last strongholds such as Raqqa in Syria.

"The most recent figures suggest that 15 percent to 20 percent of European fighters have died there, 30-35 percent have already come back and around 50 percent are still in Syria and Iraq," De Kerchove wrote in a recent report.

Those who have not returned home are holed up "in pockets of resistance in neighbouring countries or will travel to other conflict zones", he added.

- 'Desire to attack' -

The EU's security commissioner Julian King said in March that the jihadist threat "will remain high in the coming months and years, particularly as events in Syria, Iraq and Libya unfold".

Some of the foreign fighters will attempt to return to EU countries, "some with the intention of planning and executing potential future attacks", he said.

Although attacks this year in Stockholm, Manchester and London were carried out by "homegrown" extremists who had not fought in Iraq and Syria, security services fear battle-hardened extremists pose a high risk.

According to a count by AFP's European bureaus, based on official estimates, around 1,500 jihadists have already returned to their home countries or countries of residence.

They are often either put in prison, or placed under surveillance, sometimes with stringent conditions and sometimes in de-radicalisation programmes whose success remains unproven for the time being.

French journalist and author David Thomson, who has written a best-selling book about returning jihadists called "Les Revenants", said the biggest challenge for the authorities was evaluating what exactly they did in Iraq and Syria.

"The problem is when they're questioned after they return, they all say they were nurses," he told AFP.

- Slip through net -

The biggest problem for investigators is finding proof of what the individual did, Thomson said.

"The most cunning, and often the most dangerous, never post anything about their activities on social networks.

"So in France as a rule it leads to prison, and with longer and longer prison sentences. The problem is just pushed back because no-one knows what else to do for the time being."

When returnees set foot back in EU countries, they are first arrested, then questioned and put under investigation.

Different countries have each come up with specific charges to correspond to the problem of returning jihadists, such as "membership of a terrorist organisation".

A breakdown done by AFP showed there are currently 280 suspected jihadists who have returned to Germany out of 820 who went to Iraq and Syria, 450 in Britain out of 850, 210 in France out of around 1,000 and 45 in the Netherlands out of at least 280.

In Norway the figure is around 40 from 100 who went, in Sweden it is 150 (out of 300), in Finland 20 (out of 80) and in Denmark around 70 (out of 145).

In Austria, of the 300 people who went to fight at least half are of Chechen origin. Around 40 were killed and 50 were arrested on their return.

Karl-Heinz Grunboeck, an Austrian foreign ministry spokesman, said there were two consequences for the returning jihadists.

"The first is that they are charged with membership of a terrorist organisation. We investigate to see if they have a criminal past. Then they are placed under police surveillance to assess the risks that they might pose," he said.

"If they have dual nationality they could be stripped of their Austrian nationality, but that only concerns a very small number of cases."

In the absence of a common EU policy, many governments are playing it tough, but some countries have tried to engage in dialogue with the returnees -- with varying degrees of success.

The Danish city of Aarhus, for example, began a rehabilitation programme in 2007 focusing on helping former radicals find a job or with training and accommodation.

Phil Gurski, a researcher at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague, said countries were "struggling" with what to do with returnees.

"Some will come back traumatised, some will be wounded, some may want to disown IS and its barbarity and (other returnees) may be keen to radicalise others," he told AFP.

"Governments will have to consider a variety of strategies to deal with the phenomenon that is unprecedented on such a scale in recent history."

China says kindergarten blast was bomb, suspect dead
Fengxian, China (AFP) June 16, 2017
The blast that killed eight people and injured dozens outside a kindergarten in eastern China was triggered by a makeshift bomb whose maker was among the dead, authorities said Friday. The public security ministry said in a statement that the suspect was a 22-year-old man with health problems who rented a room near the kindergarten in Fengxian, where Thursday's blast occurred. Police fou ... read more

Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Rescuers battle to reach victims of deadly Bangladesh landslides

China says kindergarten blast was bomb, suspect dead

Hundreds sick in food poisoning at Mosul displaced camp

Flower power: gardening as therapy in Poland

New computing system takes its cues from human brain

Oyster shells inspire new method to make superstrong, flexible polymers

Changing the color of laser light on the femtosecond time scale

Researchers create 3-D printed tensegrity objects capable of dramatic shape change

Researchers find a surprise just beneath the surface in carbon dioxide experiment

NASA Data Suggest Future May Be Rainier Than Expected

'Plankton explosion' turns Istanbul's Bosphorus turquoise

Seeing inside coral

Early animal evolution got off to a hot start before Ice Age slowdown

Finding new homes won't help Emperor penguins cope with climate change

Blight or blessing? How the wolverine embodies Arctic diversity

Domes of frozen methane may be warning signs for new blow-outs

Carrefour pulls dog meat from shelves in China

One million sign petition for EU weedkiller ban

Dairy dispute sours Belarus-Russia relations

Fractal planting patterns yield optimal harvests, without central control

Rising sea levels will boost moderate floods in some areas, severe floods in others

Five dead after strong quake hits Guatemala

9 children killed as houses collapse in rains in Niger: officials

Greek island picks up the pieces after 6.3-magnitude quake

Qatar withdraws peacekeepers from Djibouti-Eritrea border

France says UN likely to support Sahel anti-jihadist force

Tunisian soldier dead after landmine blast

Nigerian soldier sentenced to death for 'Boko Haram' murder

Removal of aging cells could extend human life

In tense times, top conductor creates UN of orchestras

Czech cave dig reveals details of Neanderthal-human transition

Blue Brain team discovers a multi-dimensional universe in brain networks

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement