An Assessment of Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters’ Commitment to Reintegrate: A Case Study of Kwale County, Kenya

Tina Mykkänen

Abstract


This study seeks to contribute to filling the prevailing research deficit in empirical data informed by Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) and their experiences of, and challenges in, reintegration, through qualitative interviews with returning FTFs in Kwale County, Kenya; a county producing a relative majority of Kenyan recruits to Al Shabaab, who are offered amnesty upon return to their county of origin. The Life Psychology framework, which assumes an inherent human strive to obtain a good life, i.e. life embeddedness, is adopted for the analysis. The study finds that returnees commit to reintegration in the absence of other alternatives, due to economic incentives and longing for acceptance. It confirms that the process requires the societal motivation in facilitation, but will fail without the sustained commitment of the returning FTF. The study further establishes that returning FTFs are not able to obtain a flow in life embeddedness, which would indicate inability to reintegrate. Yet, many of the interviewed returning FTFs express the contrary, which challenges the concept of life embeddedness as an indicator for reintegration. The study further challenges the general assumption that deradicalization is a precondition for reintegration, as it finds that radicalized individuals are able to reintegrate into communities of origin without deserting held radical beliefs, if those communities share radical sentiments.


Keywords


Al Shabaab; Foreign Terrorist Fighter; Reintegration; Countering Violent Extremism; Returnee; Kenya

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References


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