After the March 2019 fall of Baghuz, the last stronghold of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, more than 20,000 non-Iraqi or Syrian members of the group surrendered to coalition forces. Males were separated from their family members and imprisoned, while females and young children were moved to camps for displaced people. Although both groups have been in custody for more than a year, many home governments of foreign fighters still have not decided their fate.
There is a lot of discussion in media, policy circles and government regarding what to do about these so-called fighters and their affiliates, but the opinion of the fighters themselves is often absent from this discussion. And although the Islamic State members themselves could be perpetrators of one crime or another, their opinions and the rationale behind them should not be ignored. Keeping the grievances and opinions of these people in mind is important particularly if policymakers are looking further into the future, focusing not just on near-term counterterrorism trials but also on deradicalization and preventing the group from remerging.