For a few years, the return of experienced jihadi fighters from the Levant was perceived as the main threat to Belgium. With hindsight, the 2016 Brussels attacks were the last operation prepared and staged by the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Europe, involving returnees. With the disintegration of IS’s caliphate, the threat posed by the group has evolved significantly. Returnees are no longer the sole – or even main – concern of security services.
Belgium is the main center of homegrown jihadism in Europe. Having been the base of the terrorist cell Sharia4Belgium, it witnesses a constant growth of foreign fighters coming back from Syria with strong and extremist ideology. It is not a case that this phenomenon regards mostly the 3rd generation of migrants: there are concrete problems of unemployment, discrimination and housing, that concern many neighbourhoods of the main cities in Belgium.