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Foreign Terrorist Fighters: Trends, Dynamics and Policy Responses

19 Dec 2016
Long read by Tanya Mehra

This paper, which was developed for the Global Counterterrorism Forum's Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group, takes stock of the current trends and dynamics related to the foreign terrorist fighter (FTF) phenomenon and identifies some of the gaps that still need to be addressed. The distinction between home-grown terrorists and (returning) FTFs is fading, the difference between ISIL/Da’esh inspired or directed terrorist attacks is becoming more fluid and the nexus between terrorism and crime is more prominent, which clearly indicates that terrorism can manifest itself in many different ways. The involvement of returning FTFs in some terrorist attacks is a stark reminder of the potential threat returning FTFs pose. The data also indicate a demographic change with a more prominent role of female FTFs and children being recruited and used in hostilities or involved in terrorist attacks. The current trends underline the need for a comprehensive, tailored and multidisciplinary approach including the involvement of stakeholders at the local level to adequately address the evolving aspects of the FTF phenomenon.

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How to cite:  Mehra, T. "Foreign Terrorist Fighters: Trends, Dynamics and Policy Responses", The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (2016).