Accession Number:



Returning Foreign Fighters to Tunisia and Libya After the Conflict in Iraq and Syria

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Master's Thesis]

Corporate Author:

Naval Postgraduate School

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Many of the fighters who traveled from their home states in Africa and Europe have begun to return as the Islamic State IS has lost control over much of the territory it seized in Iraq and Syria. These returnees are not only fighters they are also family members or individuals who supported the organization indirectly. As estimated by Richard Barrett in Beyond the Caliphate, a minimum of 5,600 individuals have returned home to 33 countries around the world as of October 2017. Some of them have chosen to return to under-governed states rather than their nation of origin to connect with and gain support from Salafi-Jihadist networks or to escape punishment in their home states that have implemented strict policies of judicial punishment for IS and its supporters. Returnees are perceived as a significant threat both due to their battlefield experience and their ability to strengthen existing networks and to increase convergence of disconnected or loosely connected networks in the region. This thesis examines governments, political parties, and extremist organizations via case study and network analysis to highlight which groups are most likely to receive returning fighters and to determine if their policies are likely to strengthen or weaken their ties to extremism upon their return.


Subject Categories:

  • Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]