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Policy Brief

The Demise of the Islamic State and the Fate of Its Western Foreign Fighters: Six Things to Consider

06 Jun 2018
Policy Brief by Lorne L. Dawson

As the ISIS Caliphate shrinks into oblivion, security services are wondering what will become of the Western foreign fighters drawn to Syria and Iraq. Taking into consideration six set of circumstances, this paper offers three conclusions: (1) in the short term, relative to previous jihadist conflicts, most of the surviving Islamic State fighters will stay, fight, and die in jihadist groups fighting an insurgency in Syria and Iraq; (2) in the mid-term, the Islamic State and its fighters will be impacted by the uniquely charismatic and prophetic nature of the group, giving it the potential to more successfully survive the collapse of its Caliphate; (3) in the long-term, the development of a global subaltern jihadist movement has transformed the basic conditions of terrorism, and hence the ongoing threat posed by all jihadists.