United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate

The Challenge of Returning and Relocating Foreign Terrorist Fighters: Research Perspectives

CTED Trends Report


Research shows that, historically, relatively few returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) posed a direct threat. However, those that did were responsible for some of the most lethal terrorist attacks carried out over the past three decades. FTFs have also played a critical role in creating and strengthening terrorist groups and radicalizing and recruiting terrorist networks. The current FTF wave has clear differences with previous ones. Studies indicate that it is larger, more global, and more diverse in terms of age, gender and experience in the conflict zones. These differences make the potential challenges associated with returnees and re-locators significantly bigger, but also more complex.