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Thread: Today's Wild Geese: Foreign Fighters in the GWOT

  1. #61
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Small is beautiful and growing?

    A SWJ Blog pointer to the Newsweek article 'Inside Al Qaeda', a recommendation from another watcher and the All Things CT (from Australia) too. Sub-titled:
    Nine years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden’s network remains a shadowy, little-understood enemy. The truth, as revealed by one of its fighters, is both more and less troubling than we think.
    Newsweek link:http://www.newsweek.com/2010/09/04/inside-al-qaeda.html

    All Things CT link:http://allthingsct.wordpress.com/201...-old-chestnut/

    An interesting account of a juvenile, of Afghan origin living in Pakistan, being recruited, trained and then leaving - in response to his mother's pleas. Yes, some gaps and credibility to this armchair watcher.

    So now All Things CT's comment:
    one thing stood straight out when I read this. Their account of the class size–some 30 persons. Why this stood out is that this was the size of AQ’s basic training course at al-Farouq (though sometimes they had up to 40). And this size is actually bigger than the advanced training course size at Tarnak, which usually sat at around 15-20 persons.

    Previous reports from recent training had tended to suggest AQ was only training at around 15 or so in a group, so this 30 figure stood out immediately. Whether they can still do this is of course a matter for debate, but nonetheless, even with talk of taking out so many fighters, which the authors cover in their article, this account of a full training compliment gives pause for thought.
    Then there is a Peter Bergen piece:http://www.newsweek.com/2010/09/04/w...l-matters.html

    All Things CT again:
    Might we finally be seeing the death of that hoary old chestnut thrown about for so long–about a robust pre-9/11 ”AQ” with a large membership base of at least several hundred or more usually several thousand members, instead of the just under 200 strong membership (198 actually) it had as 9/11 loomed??? As long term readers of this blog will know it is one of the first things I wrote about when I started allthingsct last year.

    Peter Bergen’s new piece gives me hope that this may be taking place.
    davidbfpo

  2. #62
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    Default Would-be jihadists find holy war can really be hell

    A German story, albeit reported in The Scotsman:
    GERMAN intelligence sources have revealed how a group of Islamist radicals discovered the path of Holy War was more difficult than they supposed. The nine would-be terrorists travelled, with two women, from Germany to Afghanistan in 2009 in a bid for glory.

    (Later)They were also alienated by the experienced Uzbek fighters they had been taken on by, dispelling their notions of Islamic unity.
    Link:http://www.scotsman.com/news/Wouldbe...war.6587573.jp

    Yes, "spin" from Germany, but accords with other independent reports on the reality volunteers find upon joining the global Jihad.
    davidbfpo

  3. #63
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Best to focus on the aspects of a problem within one's control

    Causation rests primarily with the Government; Motivation comes from elsewhere.

    As an example, within the states the Tea Party drives the Obama administration mad, but for the policies of the Obama administration, there would be no Tea Party. They attack the symptom, but don't ask; 'What is it about our approach to governance that leaves this segment of the populace feeling that they must organize and challenge us?"

    The big benefit on this particular example is that those who join the Tea Party still have hope. Not the hope offered by the Administration in it's campaign bid, but the hope that comes with the certainty that the Constitutional guarantees of term limits, their right to vote, the timeline of when elections will be held, the knowledge that the President will not call upon the military to thwart the will of the people, etc. This is why the US can absorb a lot more causation than other countries can.

    Motivation is another factor. This gets to ideology, recruiting, etc. But just as a wet forest is hard to burn, a well governed populace is hard to motivate to act out illegally to challenge government.

    Germany must ask itself why it, of all non Muslim European states provides the most foreign fighters to Afghanistan? May be closely related to the fact that Turkey is a major source of foreign fighters there as well.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    INEGMA, 8 Nov 10: Conduits to Terror - Classifying the Methods of Jihadist and Middle Eastern Terrorist Recruitment
    ...From the perspective that people are the core of any organizations’ sustainable achievement, and that manpower is a critical success factor for terrorists, this report will investigate the recruiting and training methods and trends in terrorist organizations of the Middle East and Central Asia. The source of much disagreement today is whether recruitment is driven by a central leadership structure or more “bottom-up” in that actors self-radicalize and carry out an attack....

  5. #65
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I realize "terrorist organizations" rolls off the tongue easier than "unofficial political organizations employing terrorist tactics where denied legal venues to affect change"; but it sure muddies the water.

    Terrorism is a tactic. It is time to stop describing organizations by their tactics and begin recognizing them by their purpose.

    "For want of a nail" the war was lost. Today it appears to be for want of a word.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    International Security, Winter 2010/11:

    The Rise of Muslim Foreign Fighters: Islam and the Globalization of Jihad
    ...The purpose of this article is threefold: first, to establish foreign fighters as a discrete actor category distinct from insurgents and terrorists; second, to present new empirical information about Muslim foreign fighters; and third, to propose a plausible hypothesis about the origin of the phenomenon. The analysis is based on a new data set of foreign fighter mobilizations, a large collection of unexplored primary and secondary sources in Arabic, as well as personal interviews with former foreign fighters conducted in Britain, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia.

    The scope of the article has two important limitations. First, the conceptual focus is on movement formation, not on general mechanisms of foreign fighter mobilization. I do not formulate a universal theory of foreign fighters, predict rates of recruitment, or explain individual recruitment. Second, the empirical focus is on the Muslim world. A study of Muslim foreign fighters arguably has intrinsic value, because Muslim war volunteers are much more numerous and have affected many more conflicts than have foreign fighters of other ideological orientations. In addition, their involvement in major conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their role in facilitating al-Qaida recruitment, make them a particularly significant challenge to contemporary international security....

  7. #67
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Pre-Arab Spring Assessment

    Still valid. By following the back trail of the "foreign fighters" (more accurately, young men who are frustrated with their own governance and opportunity at home, but who feel they are unable to act out to effect change yet on the home front). AQ targets these young men with an ideologically fused message that focuses on a message that is in effect: 'we will help you at home, but first you must help us abroad. Breaking the influence of the US over the region and with these governments is the critical first step."

    For the US the main effort must be one of updating our Foreign Policy from one overly rooted in the Cold War (What does one become when ones starts out as the lesser of two evils, and the greater evil falls away?) to one designed for the world emerging around us today. Our interests have not changed, but the environment has. Military efforts to mitigate the symptoms of the friction caused by our policies must be held in a focused, supporting role for best effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Some thoughts for you all to consider from someone who was embedded with the Egyptian Army during the first Gulf War:

    1. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have a lot in common in that the populaces of both states suffer under dictatorships that are supported in power largely by the U.S in exchange for support that we ask of those governments.

    2. Most foreign fighters (some 40%) in Iraq are indeed Saudi, and I would expect a large number to come from Egypt as well, though I am not aware of their open source percentage. Some 20% each come from Libya and Algeria.

    3. The Saudi's fear any growth of Shia power in particular and Iranian power in general and often play the U.S. has a hedge to protect them from this. This is due largely to the heavily oppressed Shia minority in NE Saudi Arabia that is the most motivated dissident group in Saudi Arabia, though there is a large Sunni dissidence as well.

    4. This thread started off by stating how "Egypt" was running insurgent supporting information on TV, I suspect that "Egypt" i.e., the state of Egypt, was not running this at all, and the reason this was running was because it is very popular with a suppressed Egyptian populace.

    5. The Saudi and Egyptian populaces fully recognize that they have no real hope of resolving their issues of poor governance at home until they can break the support of the U.S. in the region in general, and to their governments in particular. This is a critical point to understand. Young Saudi and Egyptian men see phase one to successful nationalist insurgency at home to be this breaking of U.S. support to two governments that have very little in common with the principles that the U.S. holds so dear.

    6. When you see that the Saudi government is "cracking down on terrorists" at home, you would be wise to consider that the people they are cracking down on are Saudi citizens who are rising up in a quest for self-determined governance, and that this tremendous "help" by our Saudi allies most likely translates to their populace as all the more why reason they must work harder to break U.S. support to this government.

    7. Some of these Saudis follow an extreme Wahabist brand of Islam, but most are moderates who want something even more extreme in this region of the world: self-determined democracy.


    My point in all of this is that this often gets colored in just one way as it is presented to the American populace. We see ourselves as "the good guys" and therefore our allies are on the "good guy" team too. We are good guys, but as our leadership has stated, we are addicted to oil, and addicts make bad decisions. Just keep an open mind, and try to see these things though the perspectives of others as well.

    To apply the concepts that I presented a few months ago in the paper on "Populace-Centric Engagement" the course I would offer is that we need to be much more tuned in to the needs, will and requirements of populaces like those of Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and take a much firmer line with their governments, using a full bag of carrots and sticks to put more effort to getting them to evolve their governments in ways that give their entire populaces more voice, and less effort on turning a blind eye to that in order to gain their support for GWOT related issues, or out of fear that they would somehow stop selling us oil.

    Americans all wish that the Middle East would change how it views us. I suggest that the critical first step is changing how we view them. The Cold War lens we view them through gets a little cloudier every day.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Still valid. By following the back trail of the "foreign fighters" (more accurately, young men who are frustrated with their own governance and opportunity at home, but who feel they are unable to act out to effect change yet on the home front).
    I think you are giving way to much credit to the political motivation of the "young men." That probably does exist, but as or more important is just the restlessness and violent tendencies of young men. Just about any half-baked political theory is going to be enough to get them to doing what young men are so prone to do anyway, be violent.

    The underwear bomber, the Times Square bomber and many of the people going from the UK and US to Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia weren't frustrated by political helplessness at home. They have more opportunity to affect political change in the US and UK than anywhere. The underwear bomber was a rich kid whose family had real influence at home. He and the others just picked something to be upset about and somebody else took advantage of it.

    Similar thing with many of the imported suicide bombers. They weren't the most politically sophisticated. They were the isolated losers.

    There are a lot of things that motivate these guys but to focus on political grievances is give them a certain false nobility and to miss something as important, the violent nature of youth and violent movements that take advantage of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    5. The Saudi and Egyptian populaces fully recognize that they have no real hope of resolving their issues of poor governance at home until they can break the support of the U.S. in the region in general, and to their governments in particular. This is a critical point to understand. Young Saudi and Egyptian men see phase one to successful nationalist insurgency at home to be this breaking of U.S. support to two governments that have very little in common with the principles that the U.S. holds so dear.
    I wonder if this has observation has been overtaken by events or was flawed in an Arab world sense to begin with. The Tunisians did pretty good without us interfering much. I think the jury is still out on Egypt but we didn't do much except watch. Libyans threw off a tyranny that wasn't supported by the US and in fact did it with US help. The Syrians are keeping up the fight against a tyranny that is hostile to the US and has been for years. It seems to be that Arab tyrannies stand or fall pretty much on their own ability to keep power and our support or money doesn't have a whole lot to do with it.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Interview-based studies of foreign fighter motivation yield little or no evidence to suggest that breaking US support for the home country government is a significant motivation. The motivation cited is consistently of the "expel the infidel from the land of the faithful" variety. It's also hard to ignore the reality that foreign fighters have been effectively recruited from countries where the government was not supported by the US, such as Syria and pre-revolution Libya, and the foreign fighters have been successfully recruited from all of these countries to fight in wars that had nothing to do with the home country government, such as the resistance to Soviet-era Afghanistan.

    This theory seems to me to be unsupported by any evidence, and it's a dangerous theory: it suggests that al we have to do to de-motivate foreign fighters and terrorists is to fix the governments of Saudi Arabia et al. This we cannot do, and trying would make a huge mess and likely give us a great deal more terrorism.

    US military intervention in Muslim countries motivates foreign fighters and provides them with a target. Easiest way to manage that is less intervention, and certainly less occupation, which provides enduring motivation and static targets.

    We deceive ourselves if we pretend that these problems were created by meddling and that they can be resolved by good meddling. The answer to bad meddling isn't good meddling, it's less meddling.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    We deceive ourselves if we pretend that these problems were created by meddling and that they can be resolved by good meddling. The answer to bad meddling isn't good meddling, it's less meddling.
    Geesh that is nice writing. I'm jealous...again.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Today's Wild Geese: Foreign Fighters in the GWOT

    The term foreign fighters (FF) appears in numerous threads, there are two threads specifically on the theme and I understand during the peak of operations in Iraq (OIF) it was frequently raised - although I was unable to identify a specific thread.

    Bob's World recently resurrected the issue on an old thread about the media in OIF and led me to think again about the issue.

    The use of the term 'Wild Geese' IIRC comes from Irish history and I think is appropriate:
    More broadly, the term "Wild Geese" is used in Irish history to refer to Irish soldiers who left to serve in continental European armies in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
    Link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_of_the_Wild_Geese
    davidbfpo

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    Default David, I'm afraid we'll have to disagree ....

    about any "appropriate" comparison of the "Wild Geese" (whether Irish, Scottish or even English) with the AQ "foreign fighters".

    The Wild Geese served in regular regiments, or in regular naval forces, which fought conventionally and under the laws of war then extant. Their motto was Pro Deo, Rege et Patria:



    Their uniforms were well-defined in terms of "Rege et Patria" (several Jameses and their United Kingdom):



    and in the British uniforms of the time, including reversed colors for sergeants.

    See Wild Geese Heritage Museum and Library, with articles on the regiments of Galmoy and Lally (quite representative of the Wild Geese in the French Service), the Wild Geese in the Spanish Service, etc.

    Trinity College (Dublin), Centre for Irish-Scottish and Comparative Studies (CISCS), made a large-scale study of Irish Military Migration to France:

    Organised recruitment of Irish regiments to the French army dates from 1635 and seven regiments were recruited to fight in France. Harman Murtagh states that the Walls of Coolnamuck, Co. Waterford played a crucial role in this recruitment. While numbers declined in the 1640's, eight regiments fought in French service after the Catholic defeat in Ireland. Wall's own regiment passed to the exiled James Stuart, Duke of York, and disbanded in 1664 (then called the Royal Irlandais).

    The most significant military migration to France occurred with the advent of the Williamite wars in the early 1690's, the defeat of James II's army in Ireland, and the Treaty of Limerick (1691). The first mass military migration of troops that would later form the Regiments Irlandais or Irish regiments took place in 1690. In exchange for a contingent of French soldiers sent to Ireland, around 5,000 Irish soldiers sailed from Kinsale to Brest in France under the command of Justin MacCarthy, Viscount Mountcashel. This group formed a foreign brigade within the French army, receiving the higher rate of pay. Soldiers in French military service enlisted for a minimum of six years according to a law of 1682. This term of service was increased to eight years in 1762 but the reality was rather different. Terms of service lasted from a few weeks to decades. The wages of ordinary soldiers were fixed at six sous per day until 1762 when they were raised to eight sous. Foreign troops were paid one sou more per day. Andre Corvisier estimates these wages were equal to that of a tradesman or a peasant, but soldiers had the advantage of receiving pay on Sundays and holidays.

    Further migration of Irish troops took place after the defeat of the Jacobite forces, supported by Louis XIV in his European campaign against William of Orange. Under the Treaty of Limerick (1691), the Williamite commander, General Ginkel (1644-1703) allowed for the transport to France of all Irish forces who wished to leave. About 12,000 sailed for France and this group formed a separate army in France under the command of James II and then his son, James III. This army, unlike Mountcashel's brigade, was not part of the French army although the French crown paid the troops.

    According to John Cornelius O'Callaghan, the organisation of the Irish regiments in France (in French service and the Stuart army) was along the following lines before the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). The infantry regiments of Clare, Dillon and Lee, with a total strength of over 6,000 troops formed Mountcashel's brigade in French service. The Stuart army in France had ten infantry regiments in seventeen battalions, three independent companies, two troops of Horse Guards and two regiments of Horse, each containing two squadrons, amounting to 12,326 soldiers and horsemen. This gave the Jacobite forces a total strength in France of 18,365.

    With the return of peace, the French army was reformed in 1698 and the Irish regiments were extensively reduced. Henceforth, the Irish and Jacobite regiments, troops and companies were reorganised into an Irish force in the service of the king of France. As Louis XIV had recognised William of Orange as king of England, he could not openly harbour an army of the deposed king of England and pretender to the throne on his soil. However, this did not change the conviction of the Jacobite forces in his army, as later invasion attempts would prove. As a result of the reform, the infantry was reduced to eight one-battalion regiments of fourteen companies of fifty men, giving a paper strength of 700 men per regiment and a total infantry force of 5,600 men. The regiments were named after the colonel proprietors, Albermarle, Berwick, Burke, Clare, Dillon, Dorrington, Galmoy and Lee. The cavalry were reduced to one regiment of two squadrons, commanded by Dominic Sheldon. Like ordinary French soldiers, the disbanded troops were left to fend for themselves, and many turned to brigandage and begging, reinforcing negative French stereotypes of Irish immigrants.

    The War of Spanish Succession (1701-1713) provided employment for all elements of the French army including the Irish regiments. With the end of the conflict, the Irish regiments were again reduced, this time to five regiments. The regiments of Berwick, Clare, Dillon, Dorrington and Lee remained in service, as did Sheldon's cavalry under the new colonel-proprietor Christopher Nugent. Burke's infantry passed into Spanish service, the other regiments were disbanded and the soldiers were incorporated into the surviving regiments. A royal decree of 2 July 1716 introduced a system of troop records to the French army. French regimental commanders were henceforth required to keep precise registers of non-commissioned officers and ordinary soldiers. These records provide the core source for the website of ordinary soldiers in the Irish regiments and can shed new light on the composition of the bulk of the troops in the Irish regiments from 1691 to the French Revolution. In 1791, the foreign regiments were disbanded as a result of French army reforms of the French Revolution. As yet the database is incomplete, including 16000 out of approximately 20,000 soldiers in French service for the period under examination. It is envisaged that the officers and the remaining ordinary soldiers will be included at a later date.
    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 01-01-2012 at 04:48 AM.

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    Men participate in foreign wars for many reasons, the least of which is that they're frustrated with their own government at home. Many men search for adventure and it isn't much more complicated than that. You can join a mercenary group, join a resistance movement, etc. to fight communism, a dictatorship, to support a communist insurgency, wage Jihad, or carry the Cross into battle. Men throughout time have longed for the excitment of battle. Only the bureaucrats would come up with something along the lines that they're frustrated with their government at home.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Men participate in foreign wars for many reasons, the least of which is that they're frustrated with their own government at home. Many men search for adventure and it isn't much more complicated than that. You can join ...wage Jihad
    To wit, http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...24&postcount=1
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

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    Foreign fighters is "pet" interest and Thomas Hegghammer, from Norway's Defence Research Institute, has circulated his article 'Should I Stay or Should I Go? Explaining Variation in Western Jihadists’ Choice between Domestic and Foreign Fighting', which has been published in an American academic journal (APSR) and is on his own website:http://hegghammer.com/_files/Heggham...hould_I_go.pdf

    The article's synopsis:
    This article studies variation in conflict theater choice by Western jihadists in an effort to understand their motivations. Some militants attack at home, whereas others join insurgencies abroad, but
    few scholars have asked why they make these different choices. Using open-source data, I estimate recruit supply for each theater, foreign fighter return rates, and returnee impact on domestic terrorist activity. The tentative data indicate that jihadists prefer foreign fighting, but a minority attacks at home
    after being radicalized, most often through foreign fighting or contact with a veteran. Most foreign fighters do not return for domestic operations, but those who do return are more effective operatives than non-veterans. The findings have implications for our understanding of the motivations of jihadists, for assessments of the terrorist threat posed by foreign fighters, and for counter-terrorism policy.
    Fifteen pages, so to printed off and read another day.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Foreign Fighters in Syria and Beyond

    Foreign Fighters in Syria and Beyond

    Entry Excerpt:



    --------
    Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
    This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

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    Default Syria’s Jihad Reaches Europe: in one place

    I have refrained from posting the many reports on the flow of European recruits to the violent jihad in Syria, with the various estimates of the numbers involved and the rare report on persons returning being arrested.

    Here is a good introduction:
    Syria since 2011 has emerged as the greatest of all jihad contests for foreign fighters. Given its proximity to Europe, large numbers of Westerners have gone to fight in Syria, via Turkish “ratlines,” raising concerns among European security services about what these violent young men might do when they return home. Significant numbers of angry young mujahidin from Europe have joined the fight in Syria, on a scale never before seen in counterterrorism circles, leading to something approaching panic among Western intelligence agencies.
    Link:http://20committee.com/2013/11/16/sy...eaches-europe/

    The article is about recent arrests in Kosovo, the author wonders if the action was prompted by militants assaulting two US citizens.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I have refrained from posting the many reports on the flow of European recruits to the violent jihad in Syria, with the various estimates of the numbers involved and the rare report on persons returning being arrested.

    Here is a good introduction:

    Link:http://20committee.com/2013/11/16/sy...eaches-europe/

    The article is about recent arrests in Kosovo, the author wonders if the action was prompted by militants assaulting two US citizens.
    Some supporting fires:

    http://theconversation.com/is-it-a-p...to-syria-18283

    Is it a problem that Australia sends the most foreign fighters to Syria?

    ASIO believes that there are at least 200 Australians who have gone to fight in Syria, more than double the number believed from any other Western country.

    But why has Australia’s contribution to the Syrian War been so large both in absolute numbers and relative to its population size?
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...orm-/?page=all

    Foreign jihadists surpass Afghan-Soviet war, storm Syria in record numbers


    The number of foreigners in Syria has not reached the level in Afghanistan three decades ago, but that civil war lasted nine years, while the Syrian rebellion is 2 years old.

    Mr. Zelin said the rate of foreign recruits streaming into Syria is “unlike anything else.”

    The foreign fighters — called jihadists, or holy warriors — come from at least 60 nations. Most are Arabs from Saudi Arabia, Libya and Tunisia, but a few dozen are from Western Europe, particularly Britain, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, Mr. Zelin said. Ten to 20 fighters have come from the United States, he said
    .

    http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-du...ngent-in-syria

    The Dutch Foreign Fighter Contingent in Syria

    This author has identified at least 20 individuals from the Netherlands who have fought or are fighting in Syria, although there could be more than 100.[6] At this point, it is not possible to access specific details about the fighters’ backgrounds—such as their socioeconomic positions—but in some of the cases there is enough information to paint a rough sketch of these foreign fighters.

    The majority of the 20 identified Dutch foreign fighters came from Moroccan, Somali and Turkish communities in the Netherlands, although one Dutch man was originally from Bosnia.[7] Most commonly, the individuals in question are of Moroccan descent.[8] They largely came from the Dutch cities of Zeist, Delft, Rotterdam and The Hague (specifically the notorious Schilderswijk[9] neighborhood).[10]


    Abu Fidaa was confident that the jihadists in Syria have an excellent strategy. He claimed that they can easily uncover a spy, and that their long-term vision gives them ideological and strategic strength. This is the advantage they have over secular groups, said Abu Fidaa. The non-secular rebels do not look at Syria in a vacuum; after freeing Syria from Bashar al-Assad, he explained, they will help their Palestinian brothers. According to Abu Fidaa, “We are not planning to return [to the Netherlands]. Freeing Syria will take a while. A true mujahid will never be able to leave Syria…If we give up at any point, all our efforts and the efforts of people before us will have been for nothing.
    According to the AIVD, “Several members of radical Islamist organisations such as Sharia4Holland and Behind Bars are among those that left to Syria to join the jihad. This is indicative of how blurred the line between radicalism and jihadism has become. These movements have created an environment in which people with similar ideas meet and develop radical ideas into jihadist ideologies. This group dynamic has led to a rapid radicalization of many individuals as well as concrete attempts to join the jihad in Syria.”

  19. #79
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default 3,600 Americans fight in Syria, what!

    Thomas Hegghammer, of the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, has a good piece in WaPo 'Number of foreign fighters from Europe in Syria is historically unprecedented. Who should be worried?'. He opens with:
    Since 2011, large numbers of European Muslims have gone to Syria to fight with the rebels. But exactly how many are they, and which countries are providing most of the fighters? The question matters because some of these foreign fighters may return to perpetrate attacks in the West, and Western governments are now grappling with the question of how to design and calibrate countermeasures.
    Link:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...ld-be-worried/

    Why the title? He writes:
    Incidentally, it is worth noting, for perspective, that the Danish Syria contingent of 65 people is the population-adjusted equivalent of 3,600 Americans.
    There is a main thread on foreign fighters, but this article warrants a new, temporary thread. The main thread is:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=14841

    I know that European Muslims, a simple generalisation, have fought before in conflicts such as Bosnia, Kashmir, Afghanistan, maybe Chechnya and without much adverse comment at the time in Libya. Often those who survive have not actually fought, although they claim to; some remain in situ, a good number die and others return totally disenchanted.

    What is intriguing is the estimated number of fighters coming from Denmark and Norway, although maybe not nationals.

    During the Spanish Civil War, which has some similarities to Syria, large numbers of volunteers fought with the Republicans - following their "left-wing" views and the need to confront fascism. The 'International Brigades' are well known, unlike the small numbers of volunteers who fought for the Nationalists.

    In my very limited reading I do not recall the return of the 'International Brigades' being seen as a national threat; monitored yes and some curiously formed part of the instructor cadre of SOE in WW2.
    davidbfpo

  20. #80
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    In my very limited reading I do not recall the return of the 'International Brigades' being seen as a national threat; monitored yes
    One of my favorite anthropologists, Elman Service, was a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    and some curiously formed part of the instructor cadre of SOE in WW2.
    Dedicated to the fight against international fascism. Makes perfect sense to me!
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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