A German security affairs analyst on Monday said about 20 percent of the 5,000 Europeans who joined the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq have already returned to Europe.
During an interview with Deutsche Welle, Guido Steinberg, an analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said about 1,000 foreign IS fighters had left the extremist group and returned to Europe.
“About 5,000 Europeans went to join [IS], and other organizations in Syria and about a fifth of them have returned all together,” he said, adding the numbers were different for each country.
According to Steinburg, the number of returning extremists in Germany was lower than those in the Scandinavian region such as Sweden, which has accepted a larger number of former IS fighters.
“It’s a considerable number if you keep in mind that most of these people have gone through training by [IS] or other organizations in Syria and Iraq,” he noted.
The security affairs analyst said he was unsure why the numbers varied between each country but suggested those returning to Sweden were “not as radicalized” as those returning to other European nations.
In contrast, Steinburg said those who left to join IS from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and western parts of Germany were “deeper in the ideology” who remained with the group longer or had been killed.
Regarding the process of accepting returning IS fighters, the analyst said each European country had their own method of screening the returnees, where in some cases “they confess and serve as witnesses.”
“When somebody comes back, he is under scrutiny, and most of these people go to jail,” he said. “By and large, there is evidence against these people, so they go to jail.”
He added that some countries, like Germany, offer rehabilitation programs, monitored by security authorities, which are meant “to win them back.”
“In Germany, we have federal states that are pessimistic about [rehabilitation], but by and large governments try to present a way for these people back into society, although in most cases that won’t work,” he explained, adding there was no “common EU-wide policy” for returnees.
Source: Kurdistan 24