EU Travel Restrictions Mean More Jihadis Staying Home

ISIS Returnees Have New Domestic Allies to Court

Fearing the soaring numbers of would-be ISIS recruits flocking to Iraq and Syria, European Union nations have imposed harsh travel restrictions on anyone suspected of going to join them.

That’s shifted ISIS recruitment bases from Western Europe to Central Asia, but it isn’t solving Europe’s problem. Just because the jihadist fighters are staying home doesn’t mean they’re not jihadist fighters.

Indeed, while the bulk of ISIS fighters from Europe remain abroad, hundreds have returned, and they’re recruiting in force. If they’re not able to send those recruits abroad to fight for ISIS, they’re likely to just fight at home.

Given how much the European Union has struggled with keeping tabs on returnees and people traveling abroad, the blanket travel bans are also likely hitting a lot of innocent people, adding to unrest among their Muslim populations, and giving the ISIS returnees an even bigger pool to draw from.

The EU may find it was better off letting people go to fight for ISIS, as many of them may not return at all, either being killed in the war over there or deciding to stay in positions within the caliphate. Leaving all those jihadis stranded in Europe just increases the likelihood of home grown attacks.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of