While foreigners from across the world have joined the Islamic State militant group, some arrive in Iraq or Syria only to find day-to-day life much more austere and violent than they had expected. These disillusioned recruits soon discover that it is a lot harder to leave Islamic State than to join, and that even if they escape they have nowhere to go.
Islamic State has killed 120 of its own members in the past six months -- most of them foreign fighters hoping to return home, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. If returnees make it out alive, returnees are considered terrorists and security risks by their homelands. Thousands of returned fighters are now under surveillance or in jail in North Africa and Europe, where they are viewed with even more suspicion after the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris this month by trained militant brothers.
The Associated Press talked to more than a dozen former fighters, families and lawyers about life in and escape from Islamic State, many of whom spoke only on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
AP's text story for Leaving Islamic State, by Lori Hinnant and Paul Schemm, will move on Friday as an advancer embargoed for use until early morning on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd. It will be released on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd for use in print and online, and an abridged version will be available. The package will move with photos and with APTN video.
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The Associated Press