How are countries dealing with their citizens who travelled abroad to fight for the Islamic State? In short, they have taken two approaches. Some states like the United States and Germany are strong advocates of repatriation. This process allows citizens to be brought back to their countries, and charged and prosecuted in their courts according to their laws. Other states like France and the United Kingdom have been cautious in allowing Islamic State members from their countries to return home. These countries are quite firmly against repatriation, and argue that a lack of evidence to fairly prosecute their citizens who went to fight for the Islamic state as one of the major reasons. The Canadian government also appears to be in the anti-repatriation camp, even though police and prosecutors are willing to charge Islamic State fighters for their crimes. So far, France has only repatriated children. Meanwhile, states like Russia, Turkey, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia have a dodgy record on prosecuting their citizens.
According to most recent estimates, the Islamic State attracted over 40,000 fighters from 120 countries. The majority came from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Russia, Egypt, and other predominantly Arab and Asian countries. Those from the West included individuals from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and France.