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American Political Science ReviewPage 1 of 15February 2013doi:10.1017/S0003055412000615Should I Stay or Should I Go? Explaining Variation in WesternJihadists Choice between Domestic and Foreign FightingTHOMAS HEGGHAMMERNorwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI)This article studies variation in conflict theater choice by Western jihadists in an effort to understandtheir motivations. Some militants attack at home, whereas others join insurgencies abroad, butfew scholars have asked why they make these different choices. Using open-source data, I estimaterecruit supply for each theater, foreign fighter return rates, and returnee impact on domestic terroristactivity. The tentative data indicate that jihadists prefer foreign fighting, but a minority attacks at homeafter being radicalized, most often through foreign fighting or contact with a veteran. Most foreignfighters do not return for domestic operations, but those who do return are more effective operatives thannonveterans. The findings have implications for our understanding of the motivations of jihadists, forassessments of the terrorist threat posed by foreign fighters, and for counterterrorism policy.hy do some Western jihadists attack at homewhile others join insurgencies in places likeAfghanistan and Somalia?1 In this article, Iexplore this variation empirically to shed light on themotivations of radical Islamists. Many assume that jihadists all want to attack the West, and that those

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