Almost all American ISIS fighters unaccounted for, sparking fears they could slip through cracks and return


When it came to recruiting foreigners to flee the comforts of home for the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, ISIS succeeded like no other — encouraging more than 40,000 fighters from more than 110 countries to travel to the fighting fray both before and after the declaration of the “caliphate” in June 2014. Subsequently, authorities have warned about the threat of returning jihadists to their homeland and since the falls of Mosul, Raqqa and the rapidly receding footprint of ISIS, such fears have come to the forefront.

According to a new report, “Beyond the Caliphate: Foreign Fighters and the Threat of Returnees,” released this week by the Soufan Center — a Washington-based security intelligence consultancy — there are now at least 5,600 citizens or residents from 33 countries who have returned home — accounting for about 15 percent of the fighters.

The report asserts that for the United States, 129 fighters succeeded in leaving the country and only seven have returned.

Of the 5,000 residents of the European Union who flocked to Iraq and Syria, a quarter are alleged to have returned home. But in the U.K., that figure was closer to half, with some 425 of the 850 fighters who left Britain to join the self-styled caliphate back on home soil. Around 5,000 left from Central Asia, of which just 500 — 10 percent — too have returned.

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