“Kazakhstan made a very bold move by being the first country to repatriate large numbers of its nationals,” Chris Harnisch, a Trump State Department official who worked on the issue, said in an interview. “They were not dipping their toe in the water. They went all in.” The Kazakh government repatriated 607 citizens through a program called Operation Zhusan. Most were women (157) and children (413). Thirty-seven adult male fighters faced prosecution upon arrival. Another 32 women and 89 children returned themselves.
The Kazakh government sends women and children to rehabilitation centers, where they undergo a long process to help them reintegrate into society. Some return completely jaded, while others remain committed to ISIS: One woman tried to smuggle the group’s propaganda into Kazakhstan in a child’s toy.
“We are trying to bring them back to normal,” then-Deputy Foreign Minister Yerzhan Ashikbayev told me earlier this year. “We would like to see them as ordinary people.” This created controversy domestically, but the government held firm.
When ISIS Families Come Home
Kazakhstan’s efforts at rehabilitation and reintegration put Europe to shame: law enforcement can help mitigate risk but “we will not be probably at 100% success and we will definitely be having problems.” https://t.co/KJFmN5N1ft
— Phil Gurski (@borealissaves) June 11, 2021