Upon reading the Financial Times article, “Isis fighters struggle on return to Balkan states,” you might almost forget the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was and still is a hardcore terrorist organization guilty of some of the most heinous terrorism carried out in the 21st century.
The article begins, claiming:
In a village in the Kosovar countryside, Edona Berisha Demolli’s family have gathered to celebrate her return from Syria where she and her husband fled to six years ago to fight for Islamic militants Isis.
“I am exhausted,” said Ms Demolli, as her relatives served guests slices of celebratory chocolate and vanilla cake and children played in the yard. “I thank God, the Kosovo state, and the US for bringing me home,” she said, referring to the pressure Washington put on countries to take their fighters back from camps across the Middle East and the logistical assistance they provided to that end.
The Financial Times would note that some 300 Bosnians joined ISIS and that Kosovo has set up barracks to accommodate returning fighters.
The article would end by quoting Besa Ismaili, a lecturer at Kosovo’s Faculty of Islamic Studies:
“You don’t have to approve of what they did, but you have to reach out to them to prevent further radicalisation, and their children need to develop a bond to the country.”
It is difficult to imagine how extremists who left their home country to fight alongside ISIS could be yet “further radicalized.”
We can suppose “further radicalization” might mean a second deployment in yet another of Washington’s proxy wars around the globe. It could be argued that returning fighters who receive assistance in reintegrating into society and escaping any real consequences for their actions will do very little to dissuade them or others in their community from doing it again.
The Financial Times in its sympathetic narrative begets questions surrounding an inescapable truth regarding the central role the United States and its allies played in facilitating the transfer of foreign extremists to and from the battlefield in war-torn Syria.
The article specifically mentions (and through the words of a former extremist,