The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are being affected by the rise of terrorism and radicalism which in turn has been driven by the creation of ISIS' state in Iraq and Syria in mid-2014. The group's presence in Iraq and Syria is inciting many Gulf civilians to travel to Syria to take part in the conflict against al-Assad or to act as local fundraisers for the organization. Furthermore, after a while, the Gulf fighters are either moving back to their home countries or to other conflict zones such as Libya and Yemen, and vice versa. This paper examines how GCC countries are countering the threats posed by ISIS to their national security by focusing on the counter-ISIS policies developed on the national level. The paper identifies three patterns of threats that include the recruitment of their citizens to join the conflict in Syria, the local replica of ISIS that has recently targeted Shiite mosques in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and private donations channelled to the armed groups in Syria. These threats are examined in detail in the first section of this paper as they represent different aspects of ISIS' influence and appeal in the Gulf societies. In order to avoid generalizations, the analysis and discussion in this paper are based on the examination of the profiles of a sample of 15 Gulf fighters recruited by ISIS during 2014–2015 originating from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. The paper also examines the policies adopted at the national level in the GCC countries to curb ISIS' influence and appeal, and identifies the main challenges encountered by these countries in countering ISIS.

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