Coming home, but unwelcome: Comparing responses to returning foreign fighters


29 May 2018


Egmont Palace, Place du Petit Sablon, 8bis, 1000 Brussels

The Egmont Institute and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) aim to jointly explore how countries in the Southern Mediterranean perceive and respond to the challenge of returning fighters. The main idea is to look at some of the most affected countries, but also those with different profiles geographically, religiously, and politically. In this sense, the project is focusing on Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, Libya and Jordan as these countries have direct ties with Europe, for geographic, political, or socio-cultural reasons. The objective is to develop a better understanding of the situation and response to returning foreign fighters in countries outside Europe. This may in return shed new light on an important issue, help to identify best practices in the region (which may allegedly be different from European approaches), and highlight potential (security, political, social) implications for European countries as well. Finally, potential cooperation between Europe and MENA countries on these issues will be explored.

This closed workshop, by invitation only, will gather key scholars and practitioners. It follows a public conference, in the morning, for which a separate invitation has been sent.



13.30                Introduction by

Dr. Thomas Renard, Senior Research Fellow, Egmont Institute

Sabina Woelkner, Programme Director, Multinational Development Policy Dialogue, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Brussels

13.45-15.15      Panel 1: “Coming Home”: The Maghreb and the challenges of returning fighters

Moderation: Dr. Andreas Jacobs, Coordinator for Islam and religious extremism, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Berlin

Kathya Kenza Berrada, Research Associate, Arab Centre for Scientific Research, Morocco
Emna Ben Aarab, Assistant Professor at the University of Sfax, Tunisia
Dr. Aaron Y. Zelin, Richard Borrow Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, DC

Comment: Isabelle Montoya, Principal Administrator, Committee on Foreign Affairs European Parliament

15.15-16.30      Panel 2: Traveling through porous borders: Returning IS fighters as emerging threat in Turkey and Jordan

Moderation: Koert Debeuf, Director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy Europe

Input: (5-8 minutes)

Dr. Can Kasapoglu, IPC-Stiftung Mercator Fellow, SWP, Berlin & Analyst, Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), Istanbul
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh, Director of Middle East Media Policies Institute (MEMPSI), Jordan

Comment: Dr. Demir Murat Seyrek, Senior Policy Analyst, European Foundation for Democracy (EFD)

16.30-16.45      Coffee Break

16.45-18.00      Panel 3: Finding a common approach: EU-cooperation in the face of transnational extremism

Moderation: Sabina Woelkner, Programme Director, Multinational Development Policy Dialogue, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Brussels

-Input: (5-8 minutes)

Bibi van Ginkel, Senior Research Fellow, Clingendael

Thomas Renard, Senior Fellow, Egmont Institute

Comment: Dr. Christiane Höhn, Principal Adviser to the EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator

18.00                Closing remarks and end of the workshop