Foreign Jihadists Fighting in Syria: An Overview of the Danger

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah - During the initial stages of the rebellion against Assad, the American, British, French, and Turkish intelligence services all thought that the Assad regime would not last long. Thus, they deeply misunderstood the power structure in Syria. In the beginning of the rebellion in 2011, the Free Syrian Army and other small militias were the spearhead of the armed opposition to the Assad regime. At that time, jihadist fighters were still a marginal phenomenon. During the last year, however, jihadist fighters have become omnipresent on the battlefield at the expense of the FSA. The foreign volunteers stay for some time in Syria, long enough to be trained in weapons, explosives, and guerilla warfare, then return to their countries where they recruit new fighters for the battle in Syria. The exceptions are mercenaries from the Balkans or Chechnya, who fight for money and stay in Syria for as long as they are being paid. Western intelligence services now warn of the threat of jihad-inspired terrorism in Europe by volunteers who received weapons and explosives training in Syria. The writer was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.

2014-01-24 00:00:00

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