Book Launch: Foreign Fighters and International Peace: Joining Global Jihad and Marching Back Home (in English)

28 March, 2023

Date and time: 28 March, 2023 15:00 – 17:00
Venue: OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Conference Hall on the 3rd floor (in-person)
Language: English
Organizers: OSCE Academy, Kyrgyzstan

This book sheds light on the emergence, roots, and gradual change of jihadism and exposes its detrimental impact on human lives. The author collected insightful interviews with ISIS fighters  and also with women who traveled to Iraq and Syria. The book analyzes the root causes and motivations of people based on direct interviews and proposes the non-enigma cycles radicalization theory. The book addresses the current situation with 70,000 women and children, who were family members of ISIS fighters, trapped in the desert following the defeat of the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.
The book also gives compelling accounts of state policies toward ISIS fighters that are being discussed by the international community such as establishing an ad hoc tribunal, stripping citizenship, transferring to Iraqi prisons etc. It also gives detailed insights into rehabilitation and reintegration programs in several countries that repatriated their citizens from Syria and Iraq. The author`s research is unique due to her direct access to repatriated foreign fighters in several countries, which brought back their citizens from Iraq and Syria. “We will depart to Jihad if God calls us,” such are the imprints that are left on the minds of young children born and raised in ISIS-controlled territories. The book contains many human stories which makes the book interesting not only to scholars and policymakers but to a general audience too.

Key messages

  • Foreign fighters are not a new threat to international peace, which had already several waves in the past. However, ISIS brought the phenomenon to new level by mobilizing more than 40,000 fighters who represented more than 70 countries.
  • Foreign fighters are products of our societies. Thus, states have primary responsibility for their citizens and should comply with their state obligations for international peace by prosecuting, repatriating and rehabilitating foreign fighters and their family members.
  • After the defeat of ISIS in 2019, international community faced a dillemma how to deal with returning fighters and their family members. States are struggling to find a law-compliant solution to bring ISIS fighters to justice for their crimes, which is a complex and urgent issue that will have long term effects on international peace as well as source countries.
  • The current situation with ISIS fighters and their family members guarded by the Kurdish forces in northeast Syria demands urgent actions from the international community. States have an opportunity to pay the smaller price now by repatriating, prosecuting, rehabilitating their citizens who are in Kurdish custody, as the abandonment will be a direct way to further radicalization, networking and emergence of new generations of terrorists.
  • The world has faced a new kind of terrorism- family jihad, which is a new phenomenon that has many implications for counterterrorism and international peace. Thousands of women and children, who were family members of fighters, have been held in camps by the Kurdish forces. Source countries should start repatriation from children and treat them as victims.

15:00 - 15:30 Book presentation - Foreign Fighters and International Peace: Joining Global Jihad and Marching Back Home by Cholpon Orozobekova
15:30 - 15:50 Discussant’s comments by Professor Emilbek Joroev
15:50 - 16:30  Q&A Session will be moderated by Elena Zhirukhina
16:30 - 17:00  Coffee-break

Speakers and organizers

Cholpon Orozobekova is a conflict analyst and terrorism expert based in Geneva, Switzerland. She has been researching religious extremism and state policies toward ISIS fighters since 2018. Her book “Global Jihadism and International Peace” was published by Rowman/Hamilton Books in October 2022. Cholpon lectures as a guest-speaker at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and Member of European Expert Network on Terrorism. Currently, Cholpon is a director of the Bulan Institute for Peace Innovations, a research institute based in Geneva. She holds an Executive Master in International Negotiations and Policy Making from the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva, Master of Advanced Studies in International and European Security from University of Geneva jointly with Geneva Centre for Security Policy, and MA in International Relations/Political Science from the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva.

OSCE Academy in Bishkek is a public foundation, established in 2002 between the Kyrgyz Government and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The Academy promotes the principles and values of the OSCE through post-graduate education, professional training and intellectual exchange. Moreover, the Academy hosts Research Fellowships, as well as publishes articles, policy briefs, and research papers on questions relevant to the Academy’s mission.

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