The threat posed by “Foreign Terrorist Fighters” (FTF)1 – individuals who travel abroad to a State other than their States of residence or nationality to engage in, undertake, plan, prepare, carry out or otherwise support terrorist activity or to provide or receive training to do so (often labeled as “terrorist training”) – is a major issue for international and national security. Governments continue to grapple with how to address the complex set of challenges posed by this threat. Many countries are concerned that the rising number of people, especially youth, radicalized to violence and traveling to fight or train alongside terrorist groups in conflict and non-conflict areas will become further radicalized and pose a new terrorist threat to their home or third countries, including transit countries.
FTFs can have an impact on origin, transit, and destination countries, including in planning operations and facilitating the influx of recruits and arms, as well as increasing the proliferation of the terrorist threat upon their return to their home or third countries with potential violent extremist indoctrination and/or affiliation, operational knowledge or experience in terrorist attacks, and training. Subsequent to their return, whether operating independently (“lone actors”) or as a part of a group, there is a risk that FTFs can commit terrorist acts or promote violence, provide guidance and operational expertise, raise funds, and/or serve as recruiters to radicalize and more broadly encourage others to violence in their State of residence or nationality or in other States.
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