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Security-oriented approach not enough to tackle the threat of foreign fighters

PACE today expressed grave concern about the problem of foreign fighters who travel to Syria and Iraq to join Daech and other violent extremist groups and then commit attacks against both European citizens and the local population of the countries where they go to join the “jihad”.

In the face of this growing threat to domestic and international security, parliamentarians believe that it is “essential to deepen the understanding of its root causes and devise appropriate policy responses to address them”.

In this connection, the resolution adopted on the basis of the report by Dirk Van der Maelen (Belgium, SOC), lists a series of political, socio-economic, ideological, personal and psychological factors that can lead to individuals becoming radicalised: feeling marginalised or socially excluded, search for identity/belonging/meaning, sense of outrage at the situation in the countries where the conflict is taking place, adherence to the ideology of a particular group, peer pressure, etc.

As to how to tackle the problem, PACE considers that “a security-oriented approach is not enough” and that it is important to strike “the right balance between repression of criminal behaviour, protection of populations and human rights, prevention of radicalisation, deradicalisation and re-integration of returnees into their home communities – if applicable, after serving an appropriate jail sentence”.

The adopted text calls, in particular, for measures to detect the dissemination of violent extremist propaganda on the Internet, for due attention to be paid to the education of religious leaders in accordance with democratic values, and for emphasis to be given to the prevention of radicalisation in prisons. The Assembly also calls for enhanced international co-operation between national and local authorities and specialised agencies with a view to sharing relevant information, experiences and good practice.