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foreign fighters

The number of defecting foreign fighters who have joined Isis ranks is growing. Their return to their country of origin is a source of concern for anti-terrorism services: this is what comes out of the information collected by a British study and confirmed by the French intelligence service sources.

In Syria and Iraq, constantly bombarded by dozens of fighter-bombers, the organization is having difficulty in preventing the desire of thousands of foreign volunteers to leave the land of the caliphate and go back home.

Their motivations are varied. The main ones are fear of air raids, disappointment because the situation does not meet their expectations; the corruption of local leaders; other abuses against Sunni Muslims; or simply boredom. This is what emerges from a study by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) at King College London, which examined about sixty cases of the so-called Foreign Fighters.

“They believe that the end has started. Many of them have started sending messages to find a way to leave” – explains Agence France Presse, the National Intelligence Coordinator in France, Didier Le Bret. “This is not about the expansion of the glorious caliphate, and we know that some people were killed as they were trying to flee.”

“Moreover, since Isis security services are very suspicious, during recovery we are always concerned to find out whether they are sincere or on a mission,” he added.

According to general director of the French internal security (ISB), Patrick Calvar, in mid-May, “244 people had returned to the Syrian-Iraqi region in France.”

“We see an increasing number of jihadists willing to come back on our territory,” he said during a hearing of the National Assembly. Yet, “they are being hampered by the Daesh (Arabic acronym of the Islamic State) which sees those who decide to leave Syria as traitors to be immediately straight away.”

In January 2014, that is, before the official proclamation of the Caliphate, ICSR had created a database of interviews with Isis deserters, in an attempt to understand their motivations. At present, this archive contains 60 names.

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