The danger posed by returning Americans who have trained with and fought for ISIS overseas cannot be understated nor ignored. The Geller Report has revealed the official United States policy that any foreign fighters, American or otherwise, who have joined ISIS should die on the battlefield. While it is impossible to know exactly how many Americans have left home to join ISIS, it is heartening to know that of those our government knows about, very few have returned home thus far.
From The Daily Mail:
More than 120 Americans who were recruited to fight for ISIS are unaccounted for, according to a new report.
This week, the Soufan Center – a Washington-based security intelligence consultancy – released ‘Beyond the Caliphate: Foreign Fighters and the Threat of Returnees’.
In the report, the agency said that at least 5,600 citizens or residents from 33 countries have returned home, making up approximately 15 per cent of ISIS’s fighters.
However, for the United States, of the 129 fighters who succeeded in leaving the country, only seven have returned home.
In 2015, the US government estimated that approximately one in five of the American fighters who fled to join ISIS were killed in war zones.
However, there are no exact numbers of how many were killed abroad or how many may have escaped into other countries – leaving the whereabouts of many unknown.
An FBI spokesperson told Fox News that 300 Americans have ‘traveled or attempted to travel to Syria and Iraq to participate in the conflict’ – including those have joined other armed groups, such as the US-backed People’s Protection Units, Peshmerga or Free Syrian Army.
‘While this number is lower in comparison to many of our international partners, we closely analyze and assess the influence groups like ISIS have on individuals located in the United States, who are inspired to commit acts of violence,’ the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also said of the 300 US fighters, approximately 40 died after traveling to Iraq or Syria.
[ … ]
Of the 5,000 residents of the European Union who flocked to Iraq and Syria, a quarter are believed to have returned home.
The countries with the highest number of foreign fighters included Jordan at 3,000 with around 50 returning home.
In France, 271 of 1,910 fighters have returned, and in Morocco, 198 have gone home out of 1,623.
‘America does not strip the citizenship of those who join ISIS, so we can’t prevent them from coming home,’ national security expert Ryan Mauro, from the Clarion Project, told Fox News.
‘A lot of these returning ISIS recruits are likely disillusioned with the caliphate, but we must not mistake disappointment with a rejection of jihadist thinking overall.’
While the Soufan Report cited (only 41 pages, read it; the best counter-jihadist is an informed counter-jihadist!) does not specify what happened to the seven Americans who returned home from battle, it does note that ‘the United States has charged 135 individuals for terrorism offenses relating to IS, with 77 convicted by August 2017.’ Additionally, the Soufan Group also divulges that the recapture of ISIS-held territory has been an enormous windfall for intelligence agencies on individual ISIS members:
However, the recovery of large amounts of data following the fall of IS administrative centers such as Mosul in July 2017, Tal Afar in August 2017 and Raqqa in October 2017, has helped to reveal the identities of many foreign fighters and has already led to the disruption of connected cells in third countries.
Like al-Qaeda, IS has maintained meticulous records of its membership, administrative orders and deployments, and there has been a considerable international effort to collect and share this information, especially the details and origins of its fighters. By September 2017, INTERPOL had collected the names of around 19,000 people who were confirmed to have joined IS, along with detailed identifying particulars.
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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Geller Report.
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