18 percent of foreign fighters in Syria are UK citizens

The International Centre for the Study of Radicalization is a non-governmental think-tank based in London whose mission is to analyze and promote the understanding of political violence and radicalization.

18 percent of foreign fighters in Syria are UK citizens

World Bulletin / News Desk

UK citizens make up the largest proportion of foreign rebel fighters in Syria, according to a new report.

According to a report published by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political, 17.9% of fighters in Syria were from the UK, based on their database of fighters identified from their social media accounts.

The International Centre for the Study of Radicalization is a non-governmental think-tank based in London whose mission is to analyze and promote the understanding of political violence and radicalization.

The report says that Syrian fighters from the West are using social media to interact with supporters and document their involvement in the conflict.

The report entitled, 'Greenbirds: Measuring importance and influence in Syrian Foreign Fighter Networks' said, "Social media represents an essential source of information and inspiration to them. In their minds, social media is no longer virtual: it has become an essential facet of what happens on the ground."

The investigation said that they created a database of the social media profiles of 190 Western and European foreign fighters. More than two thirds of these fighters are affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusrah or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, according to the report.

The report adds: "A large number of foreign fighters receive their information about the conflict not from the official channels provided by their fighting groups, but through 'disseminators' -- unaffiliated but broadly sympathetic individuals, who appear to sometimes offer moral and intellectual support to jihadist opposition groups." It also goes on to say that individuals in the West who are not directly fighting in the conflict nonetheless have a significant influence over how the conflict is perceived by those who are fighting in it.

The paper claims to have highlighted "new spiritual leaders" who are radicalizing some individuals. The paper acknowledges that there is no evidence to suggest these individuals are physically involved in facilitating the flow of foreign fighters to Syria or that they are coordinating their activity with jihadist organizations, but it describes these leaders are "cheerleaders" by the way of their statements and interactions.

The researchers said that nearly 55 percent of the foreign fighters in the social media sample population were identified as members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, while just under 14 percent were thought to belong to Jabhat al-Nusrah. The Free Syrian Army, Liwa al-Tawheed, and Ahrar al-Sham were least represented online, comprising just over two percent of the total sample combined. "Unknowns," described as fighters that could not safely be coded as belonging to any group, make up 29 percent.

Although the lion's share of foreign fighters in Syria are thought to be from the UK, the number of foreign fighters were as follows: France 11.6 percent, Germany 11.1 percent, Sweden 10 percent, Belgium 8.9 percent, and the Netherlands 6.3 percent.

Eastern European countries (including Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia) comprised 9.6 percent of the sample, while non-European Westerners -- Australians, Canadians, and U.S. -- accounted for 5.3 percent. Nearly 19 percent of the sample population was coded as of unknown origin.

The UK Home Office have warned British citizens from going to fight in the conflict in Syria and said that those identified could have their nationality stripped.

Last Mod: 16 Nisan 2014, 17:37
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