Islamic State attracts thousands of foreign fighters

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ARA News

Istanbul, Turkey Although Saudi Arabia is one of the main members of the U.S.-led anti-IS international coalition, an estimated 7000 Saudi nationals are fighting in the ranks of the Islamic State (IS/ISIL) in Syria and Iraq. 

Statistics by NGOs also states that the numbers of foreign militants in the ranks of the extremist group have dramatically increased in the recent months, especially following IS’ control of major Iraqi and Syrian cities, including Mosul, Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa. 

According to security-specialized Daily Paul, Tunisian membership of I/S well exceeded 5000, whereas Jordanians reached 2500 in number.  

However, the head of the al-Sakinah campaign concerned with fighting extremism and violence in Saudi Arabia, Abd al-Minam al-Mashoh, asserted that such statistics are inaccurate.

“It is incorrect that the biggest foreign group of IS consists of Saudis. This distorts the Kingdom’s image and stigmatizes Saudis with terrorism,” al-Mashoh told reporters in Riyadh. 

A report issued by the CIA estimated the number of IS militants fighting in Syria and Iraq between 20,000-30,500. Ryan Turbany, spokesman of the agency, said. 

Turbany pointed out that the ability of IS to attract tens of thousands of militants goes back to its triumphs on battlefields, especially following Caliphate’ announcement in June 2014.

The Daily Paul newspaper states that militants from the Gulf countries constitute the majority, while African and Western jihadists come in the second and third place in terms of IS formation. 

Among IS militants from European nationalities, British nationals form the largest group, followed by the French, Belgian, German and Dutch. 

According to  The Independent, an estimated 500 British extremists have joined IS so far. 

Women in the Islamic State 

So far, American intelligence systems do not provide clear information about the number of female members of the IS, whether American or from other nationalities. 

However, information from Europe, Canada and Australia states that about 10% of IS jihadists are women.

Moreover, 25% of the French fighters in the ranks of IS are women, according to independent reports.  

The Guardian reported in one of its researches the disappearance of dozens of Muslim girls living in western countries from their homes, to appear again in Iraq and Syria, “which raises the concerns of security forces in these countries.”    

About 50 British Muslim women have joined IS, the paper reported, adding that at least 40 German women have joined the extremist group as well. 

 

Reporting by: Mohammed Nassir 

Source: ARA News 

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