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Politics

What happens when the fighters come home?

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Imprisoned Jemaah Islamiyah leader Abu Bakar Bashir and other Indonesians linked to terrorist attacks have pledged their allegiance to Islamic State.   © Reuters

JAKARTA/KUALA LUMPUR -- A total of at least 100 Indonesians and Malaysians are believed to be fighting for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Several volunteers have died this year as suicide bombers or in combat.

     Officials from the Southeast Asian nations are growing increasingly concerned that the survivors could return from combat to lead attacks on behalf of the militant group at home. Such a scenario played out in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when veterans of the fighting in Afghanistan helped propel the rise of violent groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah, known for its bombing of nightclubs in Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people.

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