Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Families:
Interdisciplinary Analysis of Proactive Response in Central Asia


CentralAsiaFTFs looks at departure, relocation and return of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and their families associated with conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Such movements posed unprecedented challenges to the states in terms of providing security and dealing with humanitarian crisis. These challenges resulted in proliferation of various state responses.

The project is innovative in seeking to investigate the rationale of the states in shaping policies on FTFs and families (departure, relocation, and return) within their national environments. It considers gender-and-age sensitive dimensions as well as compliance with human rights. The project builds on the experience of Central Asian countries that have seen an outflow of approximately 5,000-7,000 citizens to Syria and Iraq and moved from a peremptory stance of no return to state-led repatriations. It studies under-researched rationale of the Central Asian states to engage in proactive response.

Interdisciplinary in nature, it integrates studies of terrorism, gender, law, regional cooperation, as well as behavioural insights. Methodologically, it combines interviews, discourse, and legal analysis to explore data generated through fieldwork in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The project addresses policy and academic gaps by analysing the impact of the factors of traditions, state identity and state security on the response domains of law and criminal justice, ‘soft’ policy such as repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration, and regional cooperation, investigating links between these factors and domains and contextualising sustainable interventions for dealing with FTFs and families. Such insights aim to produce evidence-driven and actionable outcomes to source decision-making in Central Asian countries and in other national contexts.