European Security, Islamist Terrorism, and Returning Fighters [September 15, 2015]   [open pdf - 129KB]

"European concerns about Islamist terrorism have been heightened considerably by several attacks over the last year and the growing number of European citizens training and fighting with extremist groups in foreign conflicts (especially in Syria and Iraq). Most recently, on August 21, a Moroccan man--who may have traveled to Syria--was arrested in France after attempting an alleged terrorist attack on a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris (six passengers, including three Americans, stopped the attack). In late June, a man was beheaded during an attempt to blow up a U.S.- owned chemical factory near Lyon, France; the suspect is a French citizen of Muslim background. […] Although it is difficult to assess the precise number of Muslims from Europe who have joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, European officials believe that their ranks have increased significantly over the past two years. Estimates from Europol, the European Union's (EU's) joint criminal intelligence body, suggest that at least 3,000 and upward of 5,000 EU citizens have left to fight in Syria, Iraq, or other conflict zones. A January 2015 study indicates that up to 4,000 individuals from Western Europe have become foreign fighters. Key countries of origin reportedly include Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The conflict in Syria and Iraq has also attracted fighters from the Western Balkans (especially Bosnia, Kosovo, and Albania) and Russia."

Report Number:
CRS Insight, IN10209
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
Media Type:
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