IS Foreign Fighters: 5,600 Have Returned Home - Report
Albanian Daily News
Published October 24, 2017
The IS territorial "caliphate" is shrinking rapidly as Iraqi and Syrian forces make gainsAt least 5,600 supporters of so-called Islamic State (IS) have returned to their home countries as it loses ground in Iraq and Syria, a new report says.
The Soufan Center, a US-based think tank, says 33 states have reported arrivals in the past two years.
The figure includes half of the estimated 850 people who left the UK.
The report says the returnees - most of whom are imprisoned or disappear from view - will continue to present a security challenge for years to come.
IS has lost much of the territory that once made up the "caliphate" it proclaimed in June 2014, attracting thousands of jihadists from across the world.
Last week, US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters said they had taken full control of Raqqa, the jihadists' de facto capital.
The Soufan Center's report says the flow of foreign fighters came to a virtual standstill in late 2015, as IS began to suffer defeats and states implemented better measures to prevent travel.
The recovery of data following the fall of IS administrative centres such as Raqqa has helped confirm the identities of 19,000 of the more than 40,000 foreigners from 110 countries estimated to have flocked to Iraq and Syria to join the jihadist group.
The data does not, however, reveal what has happened to them.
Citing figures provided by the authorities in 33 countries, the Soufan Center says at least 5,600 foreign fighters are now believed to have returned home.
They include 400 of the 3,417 fighters from Russia; 760 of the 3,244 from Saudi Arabia; 800 of the 2,926 from Tunisia; and 271 of the 1,910 from France.