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Returning from the ‘Islamic State’ – Experieces from the counselig service HAYAT -Germany

By Julia Berczyk.


Persons traveling to participate in foreign conflicts by no means constitute a new phenomenon that is intrinsically tied to the ‘Islamic State’ (‘IS’) or other violent jihadist networks. When analyzing historical foreign fighter insurgencies, David Malet, for instance, reflects upon how local insurgencies – the conflicts oftentimes being portrayed as threat to a specific transnational community – mobilize international networks.2 Malet argues that throughout modern history, there have been strong similarities with regards to the strategies of recruitment for a distant war independent of the respective conflict type. International combatants have fought for various causes, ranging from international communism to local ethnic group interests. Yet law enforcement agencies all over the world increasingly focus on foreign fighters traveling to Syria and Iraq due to a considerable rise in their number as well as the perceived threat they pose upon their return. Currently, official numbers estimate that around 680 German residents and citizens have traveled to the region to support jihadist groups such as ‘IS’.3

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