Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Report Offers Ways to Stem the Flow of Foreign Fighters to the Islamic State
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Report Offers Ways to Stem the Flow of Foreign Fighters to the Islamic State

Washington, D.C. — The spread of the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and most recently, Libya has benefited tremendously from the influx of foreign fighters from around the world. It is estimated that more than 30,000 fighters from 86 countries have made the journey to join with the Islamic State, or IS, and other extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.

A new report released by the Center for American Progress today looks at the major problem that recruitment of foreign fighters is for the effort to defeat IS and offers recommendations on how the United States can stem the flow of foreign fighters to the IS cause.

“The Islamic State has relied heavily on foreign fighters for their quick ascension in the Middle East and their spread to North Africa,” said Muath Al Wari, CAP Senior Policy Analyst and co-author of the report. “With more than 30,000 fighters so far, it is a problem that must be solved if the United States and its allies have hope of winning this conflict. This report offers several concrete recommendations for preventing foreign fighters from joining the ranks of IS at a time when current military successes make it a crucial moment to do so.”

IS recruits most heavily from the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, though there have been recruits from the United States. These foreign fighters often fill leadership roles within the organization and offer IS leadership an opportunity to inoculate local fighters from the atrocities that IS performs within their own communities by allowing foreign fighters to carry them out. The U.N. Security Council has adopted a resolution aimed at addressing the threat and established a working group to coordinate multilateral efforts.

However, the CAP report offers recommendations that the United States, its partners, and its allies can take now to help curb IS’s foreign fighter recruitment. These recommendations include the following:

  • Focus on a list of core source countries.
  • Establish and implement a legal framework of best practices to counter the flow of foreign fighters.
  • Prioritize measures to curb the use of Turkey as a transit hub.
  • Improve multilateral intelligence and information sharing.
  • Focus on gains on the battlefield against IS.

Click here to read the report.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.

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