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Stopping Foreign Terrorist Fighters

FILE - Fighters from the militant group Islamic State during a parade with a missile in Raqqa, Syria. (Raqqa Media Center)

Stopping the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters is a key concern for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.

Stopping the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters is a key concern for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.

Stopping Foreign Terrorist Fighters
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General John Allen, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, stressed this point in his speech to the Brookings-Doha U.S. Islamic World Forum. He noted that comprehensive approaches to reduce the foreign terrorist fighter flow must start at the point of radicalization.

Last year's United Nations Security Council resolution 2178 calls on all nations to strengthen their borders, share information, and adjust their laws to criminalize traveling for terrorism. More than 30 partners have now made legal and justice reforms intended to make it more difficult to travel to the battlefront.

Increasingly as a result of the Internet, it is no longer necessary for foreign terrorist fighters to leave their home countries to be radicalized and recruited. This phenomenon has opened the door to radicalized individuals to conduct terrorist attacks in their home countries. "Lone Offender" attackers as they have become known are a growing concern.

That is why all nations need to work together at every link along the chain: at every border between a potential foreign terrorist fighter and the battle space, in their home communities, and at the point of recruitment and radicalization.

The Coalition’s Foreign Terrorist Fighter Working Group is organizing Coalition action around nine fronts, ranging from border control, to information sharing, to mapping travel, to improving legal capabilities and post counter-offensive foreign terrorist fighter flows.

ISIL is practiced in exploiting a sense of rootlessness and separation that many young people feel in their communities. Whether in minority communities in the West, in certain Arab societies, or in Southeast Asia, a feeling of disenfranchisement and otherness is present and powerful for many, said General Allen. There is also separation between the opportunities young people see on their smart phones and those they believe are available to them in their own lives.

"We must guard against the manipulation of these separations and anxieties," said General Allen, "while at the same time working to address their root causes."

Stopping the flow of foreign terrorist fighters is critical to winning the fight against ISIL. Through strength and unity of purpose, ISIL can and will be defeated.