To Punish or to Pardon? Attitudes Towards Justice and Reintegration for Europeans who Cooperated with the Islamic State

Al-Hol Camp, Syria, 17 October 2019.









In April, 2020, GLD Senior Research Fellow Kristen Kao (Principal Investigator) and Professor Peter Esaiasson (University of Gothenburg) were awarded 66,000 SEK (approx. 7,500 USD) by Lundgrens Vetenskapsfond to study the return of Islamic State collaborators to Europe. The project will run from 2020-2021.

Most of the thousands of European citizens who traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) now seek repatriation and reintegration into their home communities. This project seeks to understand the conditions under which Europeans will accept the return of their compatriot IS collaborators into their communities. How does variation in the social identity of an IS collaborator (e.g. gender, age) or the type of collaboration (e.g. combat, marriage to a fighter, or employment in a civilian job) affect prospects for reintegration? Can state-imposed punishments or rehabilitative measures contribute to reconciliation? Or should these transgressions result in the loss of citizenship for these Europeans, as some policymakers are promoting? Moreover, once the state decides to impose a punishment, how do injustice gaps between what a person perceives as appropriate and what the state decides, affect desires for retribution and state legitimacy?

This project develops a novel framework integrating political theories of state legitimacy with psychological theories of (in)justice, retribution, and forgiveness. To test this framework, we will run Facebook surveys in Sweden with embedded conjoint experiments. The sample includes booster samples of Arabic-speaking inhabitants in order to examine variations across older versus newer residents of Europe. In this age of international terrorism, this project provides policymakers with information needed to create safe, secure, and inclusive societies, with broader implications for others accused of criminal behaviors.



Lundgrens Vetenskapsfond