General Breedlove recently briefed the press in the Pentagon about how returning ISIS fighters coming back to European countries have a potential to threaten American security as well. “Coupled with the challenges of Russia, Europe faces a surge of violent extremism from foreign fighters returning home from the fight in Syria and in Iraq,” Breedlove said. Added to this is Europe’s lackadaisical and reckless approach to taking these fighters back into their countries.
Instead of arresting and charging these ISIS terrorists, countries like Sweden essentially want to give them a hug and a juice box. Assuming these Swedish residents joined ISIS because they faced alienation back in Sweden, one lawmaker is proposing giving returning ISIS members jobs and psychological counseling to help them deal with the “trauma” they experienced while they were with ISIS.
One is left to wonder if the Swedish government will be providing psychological counseling to the children and families that their citizens raped and murdered while they were with ISIS. At least one Swedish soldier who had served in Afghanistan commented with little irony that there is no job waiting for him when he comes home.
Denmark is another country that takes a naive view toward de-radicalization. The Danish government is also promising returning jihadists education, jobs, and therapy in an effort to reintegrate them into Danish society. Denmark’s take on the issue is that these were simply misguided youth who stayed out past curfew. While there can be little question that some jihadists join ISIS because of a lack of economic opportunity, due to racism they face back home, or simply because they are confused young men, there is reason to be skeptical that most ISIS fighters can simply be reintegrated into civilization.
While in Syria, SOFREP gathered accounts of ISIS fighters launching suicide attacks, the wholesale murder of the Yazidi people, using little girls as sex slaves, and even raping the dead bodies of female Kurdish fighters. These ISIS war crimes are not secrets, but rather something that the jihadists openly flaunt on social media and in their propaganda films. To think that the people who commit these heinous crimes are simply misguided youth is criminally negligent on our part.
Meanwhile, countries like Belgium take a more socially responsible approach to protecting their citizens from ISIS savages who decide to quit the jihad in Syria and Iraq. In Belgium, 46 suspected terrorists have been put on trial, many in absentia as they are still fighting in Syria (and hopefully, have already been killed there).
Returning ISIS members can and will pose a threat to both American and European security. Just as many Islamic extremists linked up with each other as mujahideen in Afghanistan during the 1980s and later founded al-Qaeda, ISIS provides a breeding ground for tomorrow’s terrorist organizations. Eventually, ISIS will be defeated, but their visage will live on as the survivors attempt to re-form ISIS and other splinter groups in the coming decades.
For our sake, let’s hope that de-radicalization programs in countries like Britain have more to do with flipping former ISIS members into intelligence assets, rather than letting them skate by and reintegrate into a society they hate.
(Featured image courtesy of Jerusalem Post)