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Is Syria the next hotbed for radical Muslim groups?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/4/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

New report says 12,000 foreign fighters have entered the country

Since the Syrian civil war started back in 2011, thousands have streamed to the country from every corner of the Islamic world. These fighters have joined countless different militant organizations, many of which follow radical Islam.

Syria has been engaged in a brutal, multiple-sided civil war since 2011.

Syria has been engaged in a brutal, multiple-sided civil war since 2011.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
6/4/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Syria, International, News


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The three-year long civil war has apparently drawn in 12,000 fighters from foreign nations, almost twice as high as the 7,000 fighters which the United States and Israel believed were in the country.

Pray for those caught up in this brutal war.

This new number, sourced from a report by the private security company the Soufan Group, is higher even than the amount of fighters that flooded into Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight the Soviet Union, and the report suggests may prove an even more dangerous breeding ground for terrorism in the years to come.

Among these fighters, the report estimates that 3,000 may have ventured to Syria from Western nations to fight for Islamic extremist groups. Fears have arisen that al-Qaeda may recruit these war-hardened fighters to carry out attack at home.

"Leaving aside what may happen in Syria, if al-Qaeda can maintain a network of even a small number of motivated returnees, or recruit fighters to its terrorist agenda while they are still in Syria, it may once more pose a significant global threat," the report said.

Most of these fighters have come from Arab countries; 3,000 came from Tunisia alone, while 2,500 came from Saudi Arabia. France may have been the home of 700 fighters, 400 from the United Kingdom, and around 250 from Belgium, Australia, and Germany, says the report based on estimations provided by those governments.

In May, the FBI released a statement that about 70 fighters may have originated from the U.S., and May 30 saw the conflict's first American suicide bomber, Moner Mohammad Abusalha.

The progression from foreign fighter to terrorist is not a linear one, nor is it inevitable, and the majority of people who return from the fighting in Syria may pose no terrorist threat," writes the study's author Richard Barrett. "But the difficulty remains how to distinguish those who will from those who won't."

Barrett is a former British intelligence official and United Nations specialist on al-Qaeda, and in his report wrote that "the Syrian war is likely to be an incubator for a new generation of terrorists."

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