More and more foreign Islamic State fighters are returning to European countries that want nothing to do with them.
Swedish daily Expressen interviewed some of the 150 terrorists who have moved back to Sweden after fighting for ISIS. Many of them have changed their legal names to be able to rejoin society, but few are able to get jobs.
“I just want to forget everything,” a 27-year-old man formerly known as Walad Yousef told Expressen. “I apply for a lot of jobs, but I can’t get any because my pictures are out there.”
Another man refused to do an interview, saying he has “enough problems” since returning. Others said the purpose of their trip to Syria was to help civilians, despite leaked records obtained by Expressen indicating they joined the terror group.
“That’s very strange. Anyone can say they’re me,” a man listed as a soldier in leaked ISIS documents said. “I mean, it’s war. Maybe someone recommended me, I don’t know.”
The ones who pose the biggest threat to Europeans are unlikely to make it back, according to the defectors.
“If you’ve decided you want to fight, you won’t go back,” a 34-year-old man told the newspaper.
European countries often fail to detect returnees and put them on trial. Freedom of movement within the European Union makes it difficult to track when alleged ISIS fighters return home. Supporting a terror group is not considered a crime in many countries as long as the person is not directly involved in criminal activities.
Even in cases when terrorists confess murders they have good chances of getting away with the crimes since it’s hard to prove they actually took place.