European Security, Islamist Terrorism, and Returning Fighters [November 16, 2015] [open pdf - 123KB]
"On November 13, 2015, coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris left at least 129 people dead and over 350 injured at six locations throughout the city. French President François Hollande attributed the attacks to the Islamic State terrorist organization (which subsequently claimed responsibility), and asserted that France's response would be 'merciless.' The attacks were the worst-ever terrorist incident on French soil, and the latest in a number of examples of Islamist terrorism in France and Europe over the past year and a half. (Also see CRS Insight IN10301, France: Efforts to Counter Islamist Terrorism and Radicalization.) These attacks have reinforced European concerns about European citizens training and fighting with extremist groups in foreign conflicts (especially in Syria and Iraq) and heightened fears that terrorists could slip into Europe as part of an ongoing influx of migrants and refugees. News reports indicate that one of the seven assailants killed during the attacks may have entered Europe through Greece in early October with a Syrian passport as part of the refugee flows (authorities have not conclusively made this link); at least two suspects--both French nationals--may have traveled to Syria. While evidence suggests that the Islamic State was directly involved in planning and carrying out these attacks, worries also persist about 'homegrown' extremists inspired by Islamist propaganda to commit violence at home without ever traveling abroad."
CRS Insight, IN10209
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html