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soldiers on patrol

Terror groups exert influence in the North Caucasus.

The Foreign Fighter Factor

July 2017, Zahl 08.03

“In September 2014, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2178 concerning the “acute and growing” threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). These are defined as “individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning, or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of terrorist training, including in connection with armed conflict.” FTFs affect the dynamic of conflict — its intractability, duration and intensity, and furthermore pose a threat to their “States of origin, transit, destination, and neighboring zones of armed conflict in which they are active,” according to the resolution.

Since the eruption of the civil war in Syria, and especially after the June 2014 proclamation of the Islamic State (IS) “caliphate,” thousands of aspiring fighters from different regions have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the IS or other violent extremist groups, according to Global Coalition’s article, “Foreign Terrorist Fighters — Trends and Dynamics.” In December 2015, The Soufan Group reported the number of foreign fighters in Syria had reached approximately 30,000 from more than 100 countries. That year, the top three FTF nationalities were Tunisian (6,000), Saudi Arabian (2,500) and Russian (2,300), while there were approximately 4,700 fighters from the former Soviet republics...”

Excerpt from Darya Nicolson, “The Foreign Fighter Factor,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 8, No. 3, 2017: 24-29.

Darya Nicolson is a graduate of Amsterdam University College and holds a joint degree from the University of Amsterdam and the VU University in social sciences in international relations and political science. Her areas of academic interest include diplomacy, countering terrorism, conflict resolution, global security, relations between the European Union and Russia and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the former Soviet Union. She is a former intern of the Marshall Center, where she focused on researching counterterrorism cooperation, relations between the European Union and Russia and Russia’s North Caucasus.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.