Between 1,200 and 3,000 Europeans who lived or fought with the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria could return to Europe, according to a report by the European Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN). The number of returnees could increase if the caliphate is defeated militarily or collapses, notes the report, which was presented in July to member countries of the European Commission.
Various estimates put at 1,200 to 3,000 the number of Europeans from different backgrounds expected to return. Most are women and children, according to the report, which says that about 30% have already come back, with the knowledge of the authorities.
More than 42,000 foreign terrorist fighters from over 120 countries went to join Isis between 2011 and 2016, an unprecedented number in the history of jihads in the world. Over 5,000 were from Europe, mostly from Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy and the Netherlands. About 15% to 20% died in Iraq and Syria, 30% to 35% have already returned to Europe and about 50% are still in the two countries, according to the European Union.
Launched by the European Commission in September 2011, RAN is a network connecting people involved in preventing radicalisation and violent extremism throughout Europe. It links first-line practitioners from the commission’s member States and Norway, such as social workers, religious leaders, youth leaders, policemen, researchers and others who work on the ground in vulnerable communities, according to a fact sheet produced by the Commission.