Foreign Fighters: The Rule of Law Is the Best Response to Islamist Fighters from Western Countries
Whenever possible, Western governments should hold fighters who joined Islamist foreign conflicts and then return to their home countries legally accountable for their actions under domestic or inter-national law. Legal accountability—and, when appropriate, incapacitation—would send a much-needed signal to those who choose to join terrorists that future “foreign fighter” travel is completely unacceptable. It would also show citizens across North America and throughout Europe that governments understand their concerns about national security. Allowances will be made in rare circumstances—especially for the very young—but at a time of elevated terrorist threat, Western governments should adopt a “safety first” mindset that prioritizes law and order.