KSB - Citizens perception and community response on returned foreign fighters

Published by:

Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS)

Title:

KOSOVO SECURITY BAROMETER

SPECIAL EDITION: CITIZENS PERCEPTION AND COMMUNITY RESPONSE ON RETURNED FOREIGN FIGHTERS

Author:

Vesë Kelmendi

Date:

May 2018

Over the last three years, violent extremism has dominated the public discourse, with a special focus on threats and treatment of the returned former fighters (FF) from the formerly IS-controlled areas. The re-integration of the returned FF and their families poses the main challenge for the state institutions in Kosovo and in almost all the countries that have been challenged by this phenomenon. According to law enforcement records, to date, about 120 Kosovo citizens who participated in the war in Syria and Iraq or lived in the affected areas, including 7 women, returned to Kosovo. The majority of those that returned to Kosovo have gone through the justice system, some of them are detained, and others are still on ongoing trial procedures. Yet, with many about to complete their prison sentences, others living in isolation and surveillance, and some expected to return in the months ahead, Kosovo’s society and its institutions are struggling to strike a balance between the responsibility to address this challenge and punitive measures that would rid Kosovo of radicalization and violent extremism.

Th report is divided in three parts. The first part of the report consists of a general description of public perception on violent extremism based on the 2017 data-gathering efforts. This is categorized on ethnically-motivated threats, religiously-based violent extremism and politically-motivated violent extremism. In addition, the report analyzes respondents’ attitude toward national and religious causes.

The second and the main part of the report represents the respondents’ perceptions of the returned former fighters. It assesses threat and risks, the community willing to accept them back where they live and general perceptions regarding the treatment of the returned former fighters. The findings of this report are categorized based on the following characteristics of the respondents: residential area (rural/urban), a community where they live, gender and age.

Lastly, the third part of the report analyzes trust toward the government, assembly, courts, Prosecutor’s office and Kosovo Police, all key stakeholders in the implementation of Kosovo’s Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism. The report also summarizes the trust as it trends over the years of the Islamic Community of Kosovo, known as BIK.