Of some 5,000 EU jihadists believed to have gone to fight, around a third have already returned home, according to The Soufan Center, a US-based NGO that conducts research on global security. Some will have remained committed to violent jihad, it warned, adding: "It is clear that anyone who wishes to continue the fight will find a way to do so." So far, France, Germany and Britain have tackled returnees on a case-by-case basis. In Britain, where some 425 have returned, the goal is to "put them in court so they go to prison for a long time", said top anti-terrorism police officer Mark Rowley. For those who cannot be put behind bars, he said, authorities will have to lean on surveillance and other "prevention measures" to keep the country safe. But some in Britain openly tout a tougher line. Junior foreign minister Rory Stewart said last week that there was only one way to neutralise British IS fighters. "These people are a serious danger to us," he told BBC radio. "Unfortunately the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them." Defence Minister Michael Fallon also said Britons fighting with IS were "a legitimate target", following reports that Sally Jones, a Muslim convert nicknamed the "White Widow", had been killed in a military strike.
Children as a threat
Raphaello Pantucci, International Security Studies director at the British think tank RUSI, said governments "haven't been rushing" to claim responsibility for nationals captured by Kurdish fighters in Raqa and beyond. Although fighters and their wives in most cases ended up in the warzone by choice, "we do have a duty of care to our citizens", he said. "If they are showing up and we are able to put them through due process, that's what we should be doing." The children of European jihadists can hardly be blamed for their parents' decisions and beliefs, he added. But in Germany at least, even these youngsters are being regarded as a security threat. "We consider the return to Germany of jihadists' children, indoctrinated in a warzone, to be dangerous," German intelligence chief Hans-Georg Massen warned this month. "This could allow a new generation of jihadists to be raised here." In France, which has seen some 300 of 1,700 nationals return, authorities have taken a firm stance in the face of pleas from jihadists' families to rescue loved-ones being held in territory reclaimed from Islamic State. Defence Minister Florence Parly said Tuesday that French citizens detained in Iraq could be tried there. In Syria, she added, French nationals being held by different groups were being flagged to the Red Cross. Those who made it home would be held to account for their acts, she said. "People returning to France know that they are exposing themselves to systematic legal proceedings."
Germany – German police on the morning of the 31 Oct 17 arrested a Syrian nationality in Schwerin on charge of preparing explosives to kill as many people as possible, the Federal Prosecutor's Office announced. The Office said in a statement that the Special Forces of the Federal Police and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) have detained the 19-year-old Syrian named Yamen A, who is accused of preparing a "serious state-damaging crime". The suspect, who lived in Schwerin's district of Neu Zippendorf, is said to have planned an Islamist-motivated attack with "highly explosive" in Germany. In July this year, the suspect made the decision to detonate an explosive device in Germany "in order to kill and injure as many people as possible. Then Yamen A. began to procure components to make an explosive device, including chemicals, according to prosecutors. It was not initially clear whether the suspect had selected a location to carry out the attack, prosecutors said. There is no evidence that he is a member of a terrorist group. Germany is facing increasing terrorist attack risks after over a million refugees, mostly from Middle East countries, entered the country since 2015. Last July, a 27-year-old Syrian refugee detonated an explosive device outside a music festival in the southern German town of Ansbach, killing himself and wounding 15 people.