Skip to main content

Can returned extremist fighters be rehabilitated?

Participants in a White House summit on countering violent extremism say the most useful aspect was exchanging information on the sidelines of the meetings about how to prevent recruitment of vulnerable youth and rehabilitate foreign fighters returning home from Syria and Iraq.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism at the State Department in Washington February 19, 2015.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST) - RTR4Q9O7

Authorities in Denmark’s second largest city of Aarhus couldn’t stop an ethnic Somali teenager from joining extremists fighting in Syria two years ago but they appear to have been able to rehabilitate him after he returned.

Jacob Bundsgaard, mayor of Aarhus, said that mentoring and working with the family of the young man — whom he did not otherwise identify — smoothed reintegration into Danish society after the youth returned “physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted” by his experiences. He has even been able to re-enroll in his old high school, the mayor said.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.