The conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other countries have attracted tens of thousands of foreign fighters, who traveled to those areas of conflict to join the ranks of the so-called Islamic State (IS) and other armed groups. While this is not a new phenomenon, the size of the mobilization that occurred with the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq was without precedent, with people from at least 80 countries traveling to join the jihadist group. Out of 40,000, it is estimated that about 5,000 came from Europe and almost 19,000 from the MENA region.
Today the so-called foreign fighters seem to pose a serious threat to the security of countries across the world, including many in Asia.
Whereas most large European countries have been greatly affected by Islamic State-inspired terrorism, Italy has not seen the same degree of radicalization and extremist activity. With a much smaller number of foreign fighters, no terrorist attacks to date, and less developed terrorist networks, the country has been able to cope with the latest wave of transnational terrorism. With the offensives to crush the Islamic State now winding down, however, authorities fear that returning foreign fighters may generate a new surge in terrorist attacks.