EN | BA

Report: 250 Islamist fighters return to Balkans

250 Islamist fighters return to Balkans | Youtube snapshot

A new report from an NGO dealing with global security issues highlighted that “of around 900 people from the Western Balkans who have gone to fight in Syria or Iraq, some 250 have returned to their home countries.”

According to the report published on Tuesday by the Soufan Centre, a US-based NGO dedicated to increasing awareness of global security issues, "there is little doubt" that Islamic State will "survive the worldwide campaign against it", and warned of its continuing influence.

"Its appeal will outlast its demise, and while it will be hard to assess the specific threat posed by foreign fighters and returnees, they will present a challenge to many countries for years to come," it said.

There are now at least 5,600 foreign fighters from 33 countries, who have returned to their home states, added the report.

Yet, according to the source, some fighters from the Balkans returned home because they became disenchanted with the brutality, poverty and oppression.

According to the Soufan Centre, while returning foreign fighters have not yet added considerably to the threat of terrorism around the world, all returnees will continue to pose risk to some extent, as the number of attacks inspired or directed by the so-called Islamic State continues to rise.

The report also pointed out that returnee women and children represent a specific problem, as states struggle to understand how best to reintegrate them.

Proper mental health and social support mechanisms will be especially relevant in the case of children, the Soufan Centre underscored.

“States have not found a way to address the problem of returnees,” the report reasoned, adding that “Most are imprisoned, or disappear from view. There will be a need for more research and information sharing to develop effective strategies to assess and address the threat.”