As the United States and its coalition partners continue to squeeze ISIS out of its remaining territory in Iraq and Syria, more and more foreign fighters are returning to their home countries. This migration from the battlefield to the hometown is causing great concern among Western counterterrorism authorities. The question on everyone’s mind is how long before the returning jihadists unleash an attack on their own countries.
Not very long, according to a new study on terrorism and political violence. Within one year, the study found, and in some cases as little as months, returning fighters attempted a terrorist attack in their home countries. The term researchers used to describe that period was, “Lags in Attack Times of Extremist Returnees (LATER).”
The most effective way to mitigate the threat, authors David Malet and Rachel Hayes say, is to take immediate corrective action when a jihadist returns home. Increased security and a vibrant de-radicalization program can help the returnees peacefully reintegrate to Western society.
This advice is just as important for American prison officials to heed.