Cyreenik Says

January 2018 issues

Breaking a pattern of history: Dealing with returning jihadists

As I have pointed out before, the rise and fall of ISIS in the Middle East is following a pattern similar to that of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. In both cases lots of idealistic and enthusiastic outsiders came to participate in the conflict. In both cases lots of those outsiders were supporting the losing side. And in both cases lots of those losers came home as the conflict decisively ended in Spain, or slowly winds down in Syria and Iraq.

Now the countries of Europe are facing the issue of how to handle their returning losers. This 19 Dec 17 The Economist article, How Belgium copes with returning Islamic State fighters The caliphate’s foreign fighters are coming home to places that do not want them, talks about how one country, Belgium, is handling these returnees.

From the article, "Laura is one of about 5,000 residents of the European Union who have gone to Iraq and Syria since 2014 as jihadist fighters or supporters. Over the past six months, as IS has collapsed, Europe has braced for the prospect of more jihadists coming home, bringing their combat training (and combat trauma) with them. Whereas some may be disillusioned with radicalism, others are likely to engage in terrorism. Returned jihadists have already taken part in attacks in Belgium and France. Security services face the task of tracking them as they re-enter Europe. Courts must decide whether to lock them up. Social services must figure out how to reintegrate them into society."

One big difference between Spain and ISIS is that the end of the Spanish Civil War was followed in six months by the beginning of World War Two, so those countries dealing with returnees soon faced a much bigger issue than worrying about what returnees would be doing.

This means dealing with ISIS returnees will no longer fit this part of the pattern. This will be brand new social territory to explore. We will get to see new solutions in this 2018 challenge. Where I anticipate the pattern continuing is that the returnees will be contributing new innovations to their community culture, as Hemmingway did in the US.



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