With thousands of foreign jihadists flooding into Syria to wage a Western-backed “holy war” against the secular Bashir al-Assad regime, new research suggests the war-ravaged nation could be on its way to becoming a breeding ground for dangerous Islamic extremists that might rival even Iraq and Afghanistan. According to a report released this week, hundreds of European Muslims have also joined the Obama administration-supported Islamist “rebels” in Syria — presenting a significant potential terror threat to the West when the well-trained and battle-hardened militants return home.
Estimates compiled by the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) suggest the foreign-funded “regime change” operation in Syria has mobilized Muslims around the world to a “significant” extent. Relying on more than 450 Western and Arab media sources as well as “martyrdom notices” posted online, the ICSR found that up to 600 Europeans have gone to fight in the war. According to the report, more than 10 percent of the foreign fighters could be coming from Europe.
“As with previous conflicts, the picture is far from complete and will probably remain so for years to come,” noted the ICSR insight report on foreign “rebels” waging war in Syria authored by Aaron Zelin, also a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “There is no ‘true census’ of foreign fighters, and publicly available sources are inevitably incomplete. As a result, the figures range considerably.”
According to the estimates compiled by ICSR, the country with the most Muslims traveling to Syria for the war effort is the United Kingdom, which produced up to 134 “rebels” to fight the Assad regime. Next in line was the Netherlands, with the figures showing that over 100 Islamic Dutch citizens may have joined the Western-backed “revolutionaries.” France, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and other nations all had significant numbers of citizens involved in the so-called “revolution” as well.
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Photo of rebel fighters in Syria: AP Images