Understanding and addressing the foreign fighter phenomenon, particularly the wave of foreign fighters that joined violent extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, has become a key policy priority in recent years. Currently, research focuses on why individuals travel outside of their home countries to join armed groups, as well as the prospective security threat they pose after they return. But what about those who do not return but go on to join new groups or new wars?

A recent RESOLVE Network Research Report, “Career Foreign Fighters: Expertise Transmission Across Insurgencies,” examines this question and explores how policymakers can incorporate lessons learned into future prevention efforts.

Join USIP for a virtual conversation with the report’s authors as they explain their findings and share insights on the unique challenges that career foreign fighters pose, what we know about their “career” trajectories, their impact in local conflicts, and the implications for current policy and programmatic challenges. They will also highlight recommendations for future efforts to address violent extremism and conflict and to prevent conflict careerists based on their pioneering study. 

Speakers

Leanne Erdberg Steadman, introductory remarks
Director of VE, USIP and Interim Executive Director, RESOLVE Network

Chelsea Daymon
PhD candidate, American University; Associate Fellow, Global Network on Extremism & Technology

David Malet
Associate Professor of Public Affairs, American University; RESOLVE Research Advisory Council Member, RESOLVE Network

Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn
Researcher, Institute of Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University; Research Fellow, International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague

Colin P. Clarke, moderator
Senior Research Fellow, The Soufan Center; RESOLVE Research Advisory Council Member, RESOLVE Network

Related Publications

2020 Trends in Terrorism: From ISIS Fragmentation to Lone-Actor Attacks

2020 Trends in Terrorism: From ISIS Fragmentation to Lone-Actor Attacks

Friday, January 8, 2021

By: Alastair Reed; Kateira Aryaeinejad

In the past five years, terrorist attacks have declined notably around the globe. While this is certainly good news—particularly in the 20th year of the so-called global war on terror—terrorism remains a pervasive threat. Despite declines in its prevalence, the scale of the challenge posed by terrorism and the violent ideologies that underpin it is still immense and the mechanisms by which to address it remain complex and in need of further coordination on a global scale. What trends did we see in 2020? And how can those trends inform policy to counter violent extremism?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism

Nigeria's Security Failures: The Link Between EndSARS and Boko Haram

Nigeria's Security Failures: The Link Between EndSARS and Boko Haram

Thursday, December 17, 2020

By: Aly Verjee; Chris Kwaja

At first glance, the October state-led killings of protesters in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, seem to have little in common with the November Boko Haram massacre of at least 43 farmers in Nigeria’s northeast, or the December 11 abduction of hundreds of school students in Katsina State. With vastly different circumstances, motivations, and perpetrators—and separated by hundreds of miles—all three episodes could easily be recorded as just further tragic installments in Nigeria’s long history of violence. However, these incidents underscore the wider failure of the state to provide security for its citizens, only deepening the trust deficit felt by Nigerians.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism; Fragility & Resilience

From COVID to the Caliphate: A Look at Violent Extremism Heading into 2021

From COVID to the Caliphate: A Look at Violent Extremism Heading into 2021

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

By: Colin P. Clarke

Heading into 2021, the violent extremist landscape is more diverse than at any previous point in the last two decades since the start of the U.S.-led Global War on Terrorism. While that effort was almost exclusively focused on combating violent extremist organizations motivated by Salafi-jihadism, there has been a universal recognition that other forms of extremism have proliferated. Many governments and states feel completely unprepared and underequipped to deal with these new forms of extremism, which include, but are not limited to, racially and ethnically motivated terrorism, terrorism inspired by extreme misogyny, left-wing terrorism, and the rapid spread of conspiracy theories.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism

View All Publications