Small Wars Journal

No Nationality Heeded the Call to Come Fight for ISIS Like Tunisians Did. Now They’re Stuck.

No Nationality Heeded the Call to Come Fight for ISIS Like Tunisians Did. Now They’re Stuck. By Sudarsan Raghavan – Washington Post

When the leaders of the Islamic State declared their caliphate in Iraq and Syria, no nationality from outside those countries heeded the call to come fight for it like the Tunisians did.

Now, weeks after the caliphate’s defeat, Tunisia is confronting that legacy. Thousands of Tunisian fighters and their family members are believed held in Syria and Iraq, as well as in Libya. Their status represents part of the unfinished business of the U.S.-led war against the Islamic State and a daunting challenge for this small North African country.

As their relatives try to bring them back to Tunisia, government authorities here are resistant, fearing that even the tiniest offspring of Islamic State militants could plant the seeds for future radicalism.

Tunisian officials say they are hampered in bringing home the detainees by a weak diplomatic presence in Syria and Libya and are overwhelmed by the logistics of repatriation amid the ongoing unrest there. But with Tunisia grappling with its own social turmoil and militant groups on its own soil, there is little political will to bring families back, according to relatives, officials, activists and counterterrorism experts…

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