Foreign Fighters in Syria: Why we should be worried

Image: Poster circulated August 2018 of IS foreign fighters recently martyred.The blowback theoryFor the past month, Western intelligence officials have discreetly sounded alarm bells. Both through media leaks and official testimonies, French, Canadian, and UK officials have indicated that the flow of Westerners traveling to Syria to join the insurgency is increasing at an alarming pace.  With these revelations, the specter of a foreign fighters-induced blowback resurfaces. The blowback theory goes like this: foreigners travel to a conflict zone where they undergo ideological radicalization and gain military training, which they subsequently use to launch terrorist plots in their homeland. Based on historical patterns, there are very legitimate reasons to be concerned.  Veterans of the first Afghan jihad (against the Soviets in the 1980s) played a critical role in starting the Algerian civil war in 1991, which took the lives of hundreds of thousands. They were also…

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About the Contributor

Pascale Siegel

Pascale Combelles Siegel runs a consultancy firm, Insight Through Analysis, specializing in strategic influence in support of peace, stabilization, and counter-terrorism operations. Most recently...