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  1. #1
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Foreign fighters in Iraq & Syria

    Fighting abroad is a constant issue, currently given much hype in the media due to the numbers reported in Syria. Thanks to a "lurker" for the pointer to an article by a "radical" with a militant background, one Moazzam Begg, who offers an explanation as to their motivation and whether they are a threat upon returning home:http://www.cageprisoners.com/our-wor...-war-on-terror

    The received wisdom that has led politicians and policemen to reach this conclusion reads something like this: Muslims going to fight in Syria are probably already extremists but even if they’re not, they will be by the time they return radicalised and traumatised from what they have witnessed and experienced. Viz, coupled with extremist ideological beliefs and operational experience they pose an existential threat to the national security of Britain.

    Since the groups that attract foreign fighters in Syria have varying affiliations to Al-Qaeda and its beliefs, the reasoning continues, it is safe to assume that young men and women enlisted into the ranks of these organisations are all potential terrorists.

    (Later) It is not hard, however, to understand why Muslims would want to go out to Syria to help. Scores of them go every month on humanitarian aid missions and face endless questioning at ports by British police under schedule 7 anti-terrorism powers. It is also understandable why people want to go out and fight for what they believe is a just cause, even if the wisdom of them doing so can be questioned.
    There is a main thread 'Today's Wild Geese: Foreign Fighters in the GWOT', which started in 2005, with 83 posts and 43k views:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=14841

    It may not be easy reading, it is worth reading IMHO.
    davidbfpo

  2. #2
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    It is a rather long article which discusses important points and has some interesting links. I think it is an important topic and deserves attention and it is important to keep the basics in mind.

    1) If I go into foreign country to fight on my own initiative without being part of my states armed forces I put myself into a pool of other people. Now if those people are mostly fighting for quite brutal groups, partly with connections to groups who did sponsor terrorism (in Western countries) and share the aim to create a (strict) islamistic state base on (strict) islamistic principles. A stay itself can result in disillusion of Islamic ideas or initiate radicalization, enable me to establish links within a wider social group of radicals.

    Even if I have no longer such ideals and behaved as nicely one can in such a war, what the state services can have a hard time to know, I have tagged myself with a lot of markers. All those markers give me a profile which forces the services to employ ressourcs to monitor and check me. It is profiling on excellent grounds.

    2) So if it is wise to check, question and monitor me how should the state do it and how should he act from a legal point of view?

    As discussed in other topics the persons who have been there have marked themselves and are likely to leave lots of tracable traces and should thus be relatively easy to monitor in a number of ways.

    This doesn't mean of course that anyone coming back from Syria after a longer period of time should be quickly thrown into a prison due to special laws and harsh applications. It all depends on the specific cases and the evidence for and against them. In more then a few cases it might indeed be wise and in the public interest to strip them with due process of their citizienship.
    Last edited by Firn; 01-29-2014 at 07:46 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

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    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  3. #3
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    International Centre for Counterterrorism - The Hague: Dealing with European Foreign Fighters in Syria: Governance Challenges & Legal Implications, December 2013.
    The number of European foreign fighters with a jihadist political agenda participating in the Syrian civil war has increased exponentially over the past months and has become an ever-growing concern for European policymakers. It is particularly the possibility that returned foreign fighters have radicalised that makes them a potential threat – if only to themselves and their direct surroundings. In this ICCT Research Paper, Edwin Bakker, Christophe Paulussen and Eva Entenmann examine some of the challenges, as well as possible strategies and legal mechanisms available for European policymakers to address the foreign fighters phenomenon. It first assesses the complex threat (potentially) posed by returning mujahidin to Europe’s security. The Paper then outlines some of the risk assessment and governance challenges that European policymakers, governments and legal practitioners face in relation to (potential) foreign jihadi fighters and returnees. Prosecution via international crimes will be analysed before turning to specific national practices. Here, the Paper focuses on a few European states that have a considerable number of departing foreign fighters as estimated by their own intelligence services: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK. The Paper concludes with a series of recommendations.

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    Default Indonesians and the syrian conflict

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...9&postcount=10

    I posted this under terrorism trends in SE Asia, but this paper gives a very good explanation on why foreign fighters are flocking to Syria.

  5. #5
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Jedburgh & Bill,

    Thank you for those pointers to in-depth documents.

    I had forgotten how much of the Jihadist appeal relies on legends. Solidarity is a powerful factor.

    The Israeli think tank, Terrorism Information Centre, has a lengthy paper, with individual bios: 'Foreign fighters from Western countries in the ranks of the rebel organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad in Syria', which is a useful compliment to your two links.

    Link:http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/Dat..._409304481.pdf
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2014 at 10:51 PM.
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  6. #6
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A (not) straight forward UK policy on FF

    Two different commentaries, both are British. First The Guardian's columnist George Monbiot, the headline and sub-title:
    Orwell was hailed a hero for fighting in Spain. Today he'd be guilty of terrorism

    The International Brigades are acclaimed for bravery. But British citizens who fight in Syria are damned. If only they did it for the money
    He opens with:
    If George Orwell and Laurie Lee were to return from the Spanish civil war today, they would be arrested under section five of the Terrorism Act 2006. If convicted of fighting abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive" – a charge they would find hard to contest – they would face a maximum sentence of life in prison. That they were fighting to defend an elected government against a fascist rebellion would have no bearing on the case. They would go down as terrorists.
    Link:http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...MCNEWEML6619I2

    The contortions the UK government are embarking on are well made. One wonders if anyone who goes to fight for Bashir Assad will be targeted?

    Then from a different point of view, Shiraz Maher of ICSR, in The Daily Telegraph and his final passages are:
    Mr Maher said that many British jihadists denied any plan to return.

    “They are often very explicit in saying they want to live in a Muslim land and they want to fight Assad and carry on doing this to build an Islamic state in Syria. They say the idea of coming back to the UK to work in Primark or whatever is ridiculous.”

    However, Mr Maher highlighted a contradiction: if the fighters have no plan to return, they would have no reason to hide their identities.

    “I ask them ‘why won’t you tell me who you are?’ And the answer often is ‘don’t be stupid, we might have to come back one day’.”
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-in-Syria.html
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Criminals and Terrorists do mix

    A RUSI analysis 'Thick As Thieves: European Criminals Take to Syria’s Battlefield' by Rafaello Pantucci, raises an issue we should discuss.

    His sub-title is:
    Individuals with known criminal histories are a surprisingly common feature of the current Syrian battlefield. While their motives may be a combination of redemption and opportunism, returnees in this mode pose a complicated threat picture for security services to process if they return.
    He ends with:
    The terror-crime nexus is not a new one. People with criminal pasts are often drawn to extremist ideologies as a way of atoning for past sins, though often they donot leave their pasts completely behind. But the high instance of people going to Syria with criminal pasts of every sort adds a further worrying dimension to the phenomenon of foreign fighters going to Syria.
    Link:https://www.rusi.org/analysis/commen.../#.Uzlj0ahdXk_

    Much of the SWC discussion around 'foreign fighters' currently is on another thread 'Foreign fighters in Syria: a crime minus a motive?', but IIRC we have not debated this issue before. I do concede reference has been made in virtually all regional conflicts to crime and terrorism, not in the context of 'foreign fighters' returning home in the West.

    In the UK context it has been very clear that there is little relationship between criminal activity, criminals and organised crime with domestic Jihadi terrorism. 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland were and are quite different, on both sides it was very hard to see any distinction, especially when it came to money raising.
    davidbfpo

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    Default From the Guy Next Door to the Fighter Overseas: A Look at Four Foreign Fighters who J

    From the Guy Next Door to the Fighter Overseas: A Look at Four Foreign Fighters who Joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

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    Default A Ticket to Turkey and a Desire to Fight: Why Some Foreign Fighters Travel to Syria

    A Ticket to Turkey and a Desire to Fight: Why Some Foreign Fighters Travel to Syria

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    Default How Many Fighters Does the Islamic State Really Have?

    How Many Fighters Does the Islamic State Really Have?

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    Default Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS

    Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS

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    Default Global Efforts Fail to Stem Flow of Foreign Fighters to Syria, Iraq

    Global Efforts Fail to Stem Flow of Foreign Fighters to Syria, Iraq

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