Kilian Roithmaier

Germany and its Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters: New Loss of Citizenship Law and the Broader German Repatriation Landscape

International Centre for Counter-Terrorism


The former self-declared caliphate of the Islamic State (IS), once the size of Britain, has collapsed. Its attractiveness to the global jihadist movement also became evident in Germany. The German Federal Domestic Intelligence Service (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) estimates that more than 1.050 Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) have left Germany for Syria and Iraq of whom, to date, 350 have returned and 200 have died. Additionally, at least 42 FTFs, a high number of women and a minimum of 59 children identified as German (dual-) citizens are currently detained, the majority in Syria and northern Iraq. This has led to an increased pressure on the German authorities to work towards an adequate response regarding captured FTFs. Against this background, the German Federal Government has agreed on a new legislative initiative that would introduce the statutory forfeiture of citizenship for German FTFs. This perspective will examine and critically evaluate the recent agreement and the broader German repatriation landscape.