Should Europe bring ISIS foreign fighters back home?

The ECFR chairs a morning session on the highly sensitive topic about Europe´s ISIS fighters who left the continent and are now detained in Syria. What should Europe do? This is the question the experts aim to answer in this open black coffee morning event.


Anthony Dworkin, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
Sofia Koller, Research Fellow, German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)

Chaired by

René Wildangel, Policy Fellow, ECFR

The Turkish incursion into northern Syria has given new urgency to the question of how European governments should deal with their citizens held as ISIS supporters in the region. So far European countries have resisted bringing them home, but now Turkey has begun deporting European nationals back to their home countries. The many European citizens in the hands of Syrian Kurdish forces – including hundreds of children – face increased uncertainty but their countries still seem to lack any clear policy to handle them.

This meeting will explore the options for responding to the thousands of European citizens who are currently being detained in north-east Syria. What are the costs and risks of leaving them where they are? Is it feasible to prosecute them in the region and what are their rights under international law? And what would be the consequences to bringing them home?

The discussion follows the publication of the recent ECFR policy brief “Beyond good and evil: why Europe should bring ISIS foreign fighters home” by  Anthony Dworkin.

Sofia Koller is a Research Fellow for counterterrorism and the prevention of violent extremism at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). Her research focuses on disengagement and deradicalization in Germany and abroad. Prior to her position at the DGAP, Sofia has worked as a consultant for a variety of organizations and initiatives in France and Lebanon.

Anthony Dworkin is a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. where he leads the organizations work in the areas of human rights, democracy, and justice. Before joining ECFR, he was  executive director of the Crimes of War Project, an NGO that worked to raise public and media awareness of the laws governing armed conflict. Among other subjects, Dworkin has conducted extensive research on US and EU counterterrorism strategies and closely followed European policy towards North Africa.