Jihadist Foreign Fighter Phenomenon in Western Europe: A Low-Probability, High-Impact Threat

10 Nov 2015

The phenomenon of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq is making headlines. Their involvement in the atrocities committed by terrorist groups such as the so-called “Islamic State” and Jabhat al-Nusra have caused grave concern and public outcry in the foreign fighters’ European countries of origin. While much has been written about these foreign fighters and the possible threat they pose, the impact of this phenomenon on Western European societies has yet to be documented.

This Research Paper explores four particular areas where this impact is most visible: a) violent incidents associated with (returned) foreign fighters, b) official and political responses linked to these incidents, c) public opinion, and d) anti-Islam reactions linked to these incidents. The authors conclude that the phenomenon of jihadist foreign fighters in European societies should be primarily regarded as a social and political threat, not a physical one. They consider the phenomenon of European jihadist foreign fighters a “low-probability, high-impact” threat.

Read the Research Paper.


How to cite: Bakker, E. and J. de Roy van Zuijdewijn. “Jihadist Foreign Fighter Phenomenon in Western Europe: A Low-Probability, High-Impact Threat”, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague 6, no. 9 (2015).

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19165/2015.1.09

ISSN: 2468-0656