“Shooting in the right direction”: Anti-ISIS Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq

HENRY TUCK, TANYA SILVERMAN AND CANDACE SMALLEY, AUGUST 2016

This report represents the first publication in ISD’s new “Horizons” series, launched to examine emerging trends related to violent extremism or CVE.

Whilst the term “foreign fighter” is commonly associated with these individuals joining ISIS and other extreme Islamist groups, there has been far less attention on the hundreds of other foreign fighters that have travelled to fight against ISIS. This report builds on ISD’s research into the Islamist foreign fighter and female migrant phenomenon, and is based on a dataset of 300 anti-ISIS foreign fighters. It sheds light on this understudied group, examining who they are, who they are fighting with, and why they are prepared to participate in a far-away conflict. It also considers the legal frameworks of the countries providing the largest numbers of anti-ISIS fighters and the possible future implications for the fighters themselves, as well as their national governments.

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