Free Driving Licenses & Grants: Sweden's Shock Plan to Reintegrate Returning ISIS Fighters
Around 140 Swedish people have returned to the country after fighting for terror organisations in Syria and Iraq.
Lund County, in south Sweden, is now considering giving the jihadi defectors incentives to reintegrate into society.
The mooted benefits are housing grants, help to re-enter the workforce and free driving licenses.
Lund County’s municipal co-ordinator against violent extremism, Anna Sjostrand, said her region would deal with the returned radicals the same way they would deal with criminals attempting to reenter society.
Ms Sjostrand said: “When the subject first came up, we thought ‘Oh God, how should we handle this?’
“But we pretty quickly realised that we should deal with [people defecting from ISIS] in the same way [we deal with people defecting from criminal gangs].”
The approach has been supported by a report by the national coordinator against violent extremism.
Author of the report, Christoffer Carlsson, said that a person who wants to leave extremist environments often need support to be able to do it.
Mr Carlsson said: “It’s a straight social, economic and material question. You need to be able to reintegrate into the job market, you may need to have a driving license, debt settlement and a roof over your head.
“When people leave, they want to leave for something else, and if they don’t have resources it might be difficult to do it.”
Mr Carlsson also said was a huge possibility they would not be able to leave the extremist organisations if they did to receive support.
He added: “[Without support] they might make an attempt and fail because they have nothing to keep them out and there is always something to return to, namely the organisation they left.”
Other councils in Sweden have also debated if they should take the same approach to reintegrate returning jihadi fighters.