“I Left to be Closer to Allah”: Learning about Foreign Fighters from Family and Friends

AMARNATH AMARASINGAM, LORNE L. DAWSON, MAY 2018

This report calls on data from the largest collection of interviews with foreign fighters and those closest to them. It combines data from open-ended interviews with 43 parents, siblings, and friends of 30 men and women who travelled to Syria and Iraq. The findings and insights of this report examine two issues.

Firstly, the report sheds light on the motivations of the thousands of foreign fighters who left their families, homes, and lives to fight for jihadist groups since the start of the Syrian civil war. Secondly, it provides insight into the difficulties which families of foreign fighters face when coming to terms with their loss. It examines common factors between foreign fighters, the process of radicalisation, and whether they had contact with their families once they made the hijrah (migration) to Syria.

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