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'We have to talk about Sweden's Isis fighters'

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'We have to talk about Sweden's Isis fighters'
Smoke rises in the Syrian town of Kobane after an airstrike by the US led coalition. Photo: TT
16:28 CET+01:00
After three young Swedes died fighting for the Islamic State (Isis) over the weekend, Ibrahim Bouraleh, the chairman of the Järva Islamic Association in Stockholm says that Swedish authorities must work harder to prevent other killings in future.
Statistics from Sweden's Security Service suggest that 90 young Swedes have left Sweden to fight for Isis in Syria, Somalia, and Iraq - but that figure could be a lot higher. 
 
Either way, this is terribly tragic - especially as the number is growing.
 
From our perspective, we have three issues we need to work on:
 
1. The parents who are affected
They need social support. Most of them don't even know their child has gone to fight and it comes as a real shock to them to find out. Many of them say they didn't even know what was going on in the lead up to their children leaving the country. We've tried to make it possible for parents to have access to psychiatrists and imams. But we also need to help other friends and relatives. We don't want these people feeling on the outside.
 
2. Community prevention work
We have to actively work to prevent other young people from joining Isis. We've been looking into different models that appear to be working in both Denmark and the UK, where social services and police work together to support families affected. They work in advance, educating parents so they can spot the signals before it's too late. From there, psychologists and even police can be called in. 
 
3. Helping Isis fighters come home
We have to ask how we're accepting these people when they come home alive. We need to ask questions about how we can help them readjust to society. This is something we can't do alone. We need help from local authorities and other organizations with experience in this area.
 

Ibrahim Bouraleh. Photo: Private
 
I've never spoken to a young person who's gone to fight, but I have spoken to plenty of their parents. They are in despair, they feel shame, many of them don't even dare to talk about it. 
 
I know it's problematic, but this is a phenomenon that's new to us - and we have to talk about it. 
 
One of the key reasons these young guys are doing it is because they have a young person's mentality. It has nothing to do with religion, really. They want to change the world and they think this is how to do it. They think they're fighting for an ideology, for something they believe in.
 
These are people with good hearts, and we have to help them.
 
The whole thing is a tragedy that we want to prevent. I hope that we can, with help, stop these young people from heading to Somalia, Iraq and Syria. We have to listen to them. We have to break the silence. We need to dare to talk about this and try and solve it together. 
 
Ibrahim Bouraleh is Chairman of the Islamic Association in Järva, Stockholm
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