Impeding the flow of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs)

The Global Coalition is committed to tackling the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters travelling to Syria and Iraq to join Daesh or travelling from Daesh-held territories to other countries. Over the past year, there has been a significant decline in the movement of foreign terrorist fighters to and from the region following actions taken by the Coalition and its partners. This decline has been dramatic, prolonged, and geographically widespread.

Co-led by the Netherlands, Turkey and the United States, the Coalition’s Foreign Terrorist Fighter Working Group serves as a platform for an international whole-of-government approach, encouraging collaboration and capacity-building within and across disciplines. It is working with Coalition partners to implement the obligations and recommendations set out in UN Security Council Resolution 2178.

The resolution requires countries to take steps to counter foreign terrorist fighters, expanding obligations under international law and strengthening international measures that prevent suspected foreign terrorist fighters from travelling, disrupt financial support to foreign terrorist fighters, and further strengthen international and regional co-operation mechanisms.

Preventing the flow of foreign fighters has been a major part of the Coalition’s effort to defeat Daesh over the past three years. There has been significant progress: –

  • More than 69 countries have laws to prosecute and penalise foreign terrorist fighter activities (for instance, the act of traveling outside one’s country to join a terrorist organisation).
  • At least 70 countries have prosecuted or arrested foreign terrorist fighters or their facilitators.
  • More than 60 countries, plus the UN, have contributed over 25,000 foreign terrorist fighter profiles to INTERPOL. Strengthening this shared resource empowers global law enforcement authorities to identify and disrupt foreign terrorist fighter transit networks.
  • The United States has concluded information-sharing arrangements with over 60 international partners to help identify, track, and deter known and suspected terrorists.
  • At least 26 partners share financial information with the United States that could provide actionable leads to prosecute or target foreign terrorist fighters.
  • At least 31 countries use enhanced traveller screening measures.

While the Coalition is making every effort to see that Daesh’s fighters are captured on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, there are a number who will attempt to make their way back to Europe and other locations. To combat this, governments have strengthened information sharing, border security, legal frameworks, and prosecutions, and adopted national countering violent extremism strategies. Following Daesh defeats, the Coalition has also exploited information found on the battlefield to better understand Daesh’s networks and techniques, including the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to and from Syria and Iraq.