HUFFINGTON POST

Danish City Opens Rehab To Help Reform Volunteer ISIS Fighters

While the United Kingdom has arrested dozens of British citizens for terrorism offenses linked to Syria, a city in Denmark has come up with a different approach: Rehab.

Freelance journalist Simon Hooper reported for Al Jazeera on a program in the Danish city of Aarhus set up by welfare services and police. When Hooper spoke with HuffPost Live's Marc Lamont Hill on Tuesday, he explained how the city is hoping to treat and reintegrate the volunteer fighters back into society.

"It's a scheme devised for Danish Muslims who, for whatever reason, decided to go to Syria and have now returned home," Hooper said. "It offers an alternative ... approach to what we've seen some countries [do] -- such as the U.K., where people returning from Syria tend to be facing immediate arrest and threat of prosecution of terrorism."

Hooper said the program is "embracing" former fighters by offering three kinds of support: psychological, physical and general support, like career or educational guidance. According to Hooper, the program has also reached out to "leaders of a controversial local mosque" to deter more volunteers from going to Syria.

Prof. Peter Neumann told the Associated Press earlier this week that more than 12,000 foreign fighters from 74 countries are believed to have gone to fight in Syria's war. About 20 to 25 percent of those come from western countries, sparking fears that radicalized fighters may return to their home countries.

Hooper explained that the Danish program is focusing on those individuals that that may have gone to Syria without completely realizing what they were getting into.

This scheme recognizes that many more of those who have gone to Syria may be disillusioned or traumatized by what they've experienced and are seeking a way out. They may have imagined that they were going to join an honorable struggle against a tyrannical regime and instead found themselves fighting on the rebel factions or being witnesses to atrocities.

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BEFORE YOU GO

  • 1 Twins Salma and Zahra Halane
    The <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2703792/Twin-Manchester-schoolgirls-ran-away-Syria-married-ISIS-fighters
    The 16-year-old schoolgirls from Chorlton, Manchester, followed their brother who had also gone to fight in Syria. They are now married to ISIS fighters, and told a reporter for their local paper that they spend most of their time indoors, leaving only with their husbands. Both twins, the daughters of Somali refugees, had achieved excellent GCSE results, 23 grades A*-C between them at Whalley Range High School for Girls. A twitter account linked to one of the twins shows a woman in a burka, with an AK47. It appears the account has since been removed.
  • 2 Khadijah Dare aka Muhajirah fi Sham
    Khadijah Dare, a mother of one originally from Lewisham, has engaged in active recruitment of women for Isis. She left Britai
    Khadijah Dare, a mother of one originally from Lewisham, has engaged in active recruitment of women for Isis. She left Britain in 2012 to live in Syria with her Swedish husband. Writing on Twitter under her name Muhajirah fi Sham, which means immigrant in Syria, Dare praised the killing of US journalist James Foley, saying: “Any links 4 da execution of da journalist plz. Allahu Akbar. UK must b shaking up ha ha. I wna b da 1st UK woman 2 kill a UK or US terorrist!(sic)”. In a recruitment video for the group, the 22-year-old can be seen firing an AK47, calling on Brits to come and fight. “Instead of sitting down and focusing on your families or focusing on your studies, you need to stop being selfish because time is ticking," she said.
  • 3 Aqsa Mahmood aka Umm Layth
    Umm Layth was a prolific tweeter until she was identified in the press as 20-year-old Glaswegian Aqsa Mahmood.

In her tweets
    Umm Layth was a prolific tweeter until she was identified in the press as 20-year-old Glaswegian Aqsa Mahmood. In her tweets, she urged Muslim men and women who could not come to fight to instead commit terrorist atrocities at home, praising the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, the bombing of the Boston Marathon and the shooting of soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas. "If you cannot make it to the battlefield, then bring the battlefield to yourself," she tweeted. Mahmood, who is now married to an Isis fighter, attended the prestigious Craigholme School and was studying radiography at Glasgow Caledonian University when she left for Syria. Her family reported her missing to police in November 2013. Despite praising al Qaeda terrorists and encouraging more attacks, her tweets betray her Westernised roots. One asks for someone to "make a Hijrah [pilgrimage] from Scotland already and bring me Irn-Bru.” She also tweeted with delight at receiving European food, including Pringles crisps and Nutella. “@UmmLayth_: Surely after difficulty there is ease *_* #5StarJihad pic.twitter.com/gp8RmWTuR9” yep only in #shaam— Umm Farriss (@UmmAnwar_) March 20, 2014
  • 4 Al Khanssaa
    A close friend of Aqsa and a Brit of Somalian heritage, Khanssaa is described on Twitter as the "cook of the house" in Raqqa
    A close friend of Aqsa and a Brit of Somalian heritage, Khanssaa is described on Twitter as the "cook of the house" in Raqqa where several girls live. She tweets them offering up Nutella pancakes. Unlike many of the other girls who have tweeted about how their families disapprove of their mission to Syria, Khanssaa said she is following in the footsteps of her father who left her family to fight a holy war, though she does not specify where. My father left for jihad with 3 children under the age of 4 & a wife 9 months pregnant and brothers stay behind because its hard to leave..?— أم عبيدة (@Al_Khanssaa) August 26, 2014
  • 5 Umm Anwar / Umm Farris
    With the black flag of Isis as her profile picture, Umm Anwar, who also goes by the name Umm Farris, is one of the four Briti
    With the black flag of Isis as her profile picture, Umm Anwar, who also goes by the name Umm Farris, is one of the four British girls married to an Islamic State fighters who has only recently been identified by researchers. She is believed to be based in Raqqa, and recently said she was surprised to discover a ‘Yazidi slave girl’ from Iraq in a home she visited. As well as retweeting praise for Islamic State fighters and the Caliphate, she mentions shopping and joking with her friends in the city while her husband fights. Shopping with @GreenBirds22 in raqqah and she goes "this is racist" pic.twitter.com/CJMxTD4jfC— Umm Farriss (@UmmAnwar_) August 28, 2014
  • 6 GreenBirds22
    Though much of her account extols the virtue of jihad, the third member of the British girl gang in Raqqa peppers her tweets
    Though much of her account extols the virtue of jihad, the third member of the British girl gang in Raqqa peppers her tweets with English slang, like ‘ain’t’ and calls her fellow ISIS wives ‘babesss’. Going under the name 'Black Banners' on Twitter, where her profile picture includes Osama Bin Laden, she suggested she is the second wife of a fighter She tweets about being “bored” in Raqqa and asks her friends repeatedly to meet up and visit her. Her twitter also includes retweets of beautiful pictures and Vines, including a sunset at the Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco, and a comedy sketch about accidentally dropping a cookie in milk.
  • 7 UkhtiB
    A close friend of Anwar, the pair joke about their shopping habits on Twitter, arrange lifts, drink smoothies and cook each o
    A close friend of Anwar, the pair joke about their shopping habits on Twitter, arrange lifts, drink smoothies and cook each other food. Her background is unclear, but she hints that her family disapprove of her being in Syria, tweeting: “Your family will be the biggest test for you once you make Hijrāh. They're either with you or without you.” Much of her feed consists of retweets of local fighters and of Islamic sayings, as well as graphic pictures of the dead from Iraq, Syria and Gaza.
  • 8 Umm Talib
    The fourth member of the group of girls in Raqqa, who calls herself Qad Af-Iahal Shuhada, has a son with her, and is believed
    The fourth member of the group of girls in Raqqa, who calls herself Qad Af-Iahal Shuhada, has a son with her, and is believed to be from London or the south of England, having tweeted about leaving her Oyster card in the pocket of her abaya, a type of female Muslim covering, while she put it in the watch. A foodie, she recently retweeted a recipe for Vietnamese chicken with avocado and lemongrass spring rolls, then messaged her friend to tell her she was cooking for them. Other tweets include a picture of the girls out for dinner in Raqqa, eating hummus and pita with chilli and vegetables. Eating right now in raqqah mmm pic.twitter.com/fEKnO4cKjr— Qad Af-lahal Shuhada (@Umm_Talib) August 22, 2014
  • 9 Umm Khattab
    One of the most prolific tweeters amongst the women in Isis is a British 18-year-old who goes under the twitter handle @UmmKh
    One of the most prolific tweeters amongst the women in Isis is a British 18-year-old who goes under the twitter handle @UmmKhattab, who has tweeted about previously being based in the town of Manbij, close to Aleppo, tweeting sunsets from the rooftops, but has recently moved to Raqqa. "Best thing ive done in my 18 years in this world is come to the blessed land of shaam and leave Britain the land of kuffar," she posted in June. And she tweeted a dim view of the UK's plan to strip returning jihadists of their citizenship. "Uk government are funny im not returning to ur dirty society which has no moral values y'all r all uncivilised and need islam to liberate u," she wrote. The black flag is not only limited to iraq and shaam in sha Allah it shall fly over 10 downing st— :) (@UmmKhattab__) July 10, 2014
  • 10 Sally Jones aka Umm Hussain al-Britani
    Formerly a rock musician in a local band, the 45-year-old mother-of-two from Chatham, Kent, is believed to have converted to
    Formerly a rock musician in a local band, the 45-year-old mother-of-two from Chatham, Kent, is believed to have converted to Islam to marry a British Isis fighter Junaid Hussain. The couple are reported to have moved to Raqqa, leaving her children behind. Her Twitter account under the name Umm Hussain al-Britani, contains threats like "You Christians all need beheading with a blunt knife and stuck on the railings at Raqqa... Come here I'll do it for you."
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