Family Counselling as Prevention and Intervention Tool Against ‘Foreign Fighters’. The German ‘Hayat’ Program.

Daniel Koehler


Currently German authorities estimate that about 230 German citizens have travelled to the civil war battlefields in Syria (‘Foreign Fighters’). The perceived threat results from the
possibility of trained individuals with battlefield experience and contacts to international terrorist organizations returning with their Western passports to their home countries and
either act as sleepers, active terrorists or recruiters for terrorist organizations. So far Western countries have not yet found an effective tool to stop or slow down the continuous
stream of persons travelling abroad, for many different reasons. In addition the knowledge about the processes and careers leading to the departure from one’s home country to a war scenario is very limited. This article introduces one of the few civil society programs (‘HAYAT’) designed, among other tasks, to work in the close periphery of highly radicalized
individuals and ‘Foreign Fighters’ - with the major goal to prevent these persons from leaving, prevent them from turning violent once they have left, and finally convince them to
return to their home countries into a network closely coordinated with the authorities, but institutionally independent from them. HAYAT is a family counselling program available for
every relative, friend or otherwise attached person (e.g. teacher) of individuals on the path of radicalization (violent and non-violent) at any stage. The unique methodology designed to work as a bridge between security authorities and civil society in regard to the ‘Foreign Fighters’ threat is the core of this article. In addition a short statistical overview on HAYAT’s
cases of the first two years of work will be given.

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Foreign Fighters; Syria; Hayat; Family Counselling


Volltext (English)


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