Military Review

The return of the militants and European fears

Thomas Hegghammer (a political analyst at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment) recently published in the Washington Post blog The article titled “The number of foreign European militants fighting in Syria is historically unprecedented. Who should be bothered? ”The author answered the question posed: Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Austria will have to be very serious. France, Germany and Britain, too, will not find it.

The return of the militants and European fears

The question of the return of militants to Europe is extremely worried about the author of the material. After all, radical Islamists who have fought in Syria can address their attacks to the West. European governments will have to seriously think about countermeasures.

However, even assessing the terrorist threat posed by foreign fighters is a difficult task. Yes, the chances that foreign fighters will join the ranks of international terrorists are much higher than the participation in terrorism of someone from the Muslim population who does not have war experience. On the other hand, only a small part of the militants, as a rule, return "home" to make attacks there.

A necessary condition for assessing the threat is determining the number of fighters who went abroad. How to do it? The author believes that it is necessary to analyze all public information about the number of foreign fighters - from reports of the death of individual individuals to estimates of the United Nations. The author clarifies that he and Aaron Zelin have made such estimates in the last 15 months. The information kit allowed researchers to compile a “collection” from more than 800 sources. However, this approach is not ideal for assessments at country levels, since the “collection” includes diverse types of observations.

There is another evaluation strategy. It is simpler and more reliable, although it has limitations in scope. This approach is to use information that comes with specific types of observation, namely, the analysis of assessments provided by the special services of individual countries.

Periodically, government officials publicize or mention such assessments (unclassified reports, interviews with journalists, parliamentary hearings). Yes, these estimates may differ in their accuracy and source of production. However, they are likely to be the best estimates of all available, because the intelligence services have a much wider range of data collection tools at their disposal than scientists can afford.

The author brought the country estimates, which allow to get an idea of ​​the scale and distribution of militants from Europe, in a table. Sources of information were the data of European intelligence services for the last 6-7 months for twelve countries. (If there are minimum and maximum ratings, the latter is given in brackets).

The number of Muslim foreign fighters in Syria by individual countries of origin, according to intelligence estimates of each country in 2013 year:

The author first draws attention to the total number of Islamist militants. The minimum score is over 1100, the maximum score is over 1700.

In addition, the 12 of these countries are probably only the main suppliers of foreign fighters to Syria. There is enough evidence that people from other European countries are fighting in Syria.

Thus, it is possible to assert with a high degree of confidence that since the beginning of the war at least 1200 European Muslims went to Syria. As a result, the researcher points out, we are talking about the largest in modern stories the European Muslim contingent of foreign fighters involved in any conflicts. Indeed, the number of European fighters in Syria may exceed the total number of Muslim foreign fighters from all Western countries in all conflicts between 1990 and 2010 years (estimated to be just under a thousand). And this is only two and a half years of the Syrian war.

A comparison of absolute numbers shows that four countries - namely, France, Germany, Great Britain and Belgium - have especially large “contingents” of militants who went to Syria. However, absolute numbers are not necessarily the best indicators of the scale of the threat: after all, large countries have more resources to solve the problem. Ten potential terrorists are a big problem for Luxembourg than for the USA. Comparison of the population of the country and the estimated number of foreign fighters per million inhabitants allowed the author to compile another table.

The estimated number of Muslim foreign fighters in Syria per million inhabitants in the country of origin:

Next, the scientist analyzed the total number of Muslims in specific European countries. For example, he notes, the United Kingdom and France have the same population, but in France the Muslim population is almost 65% more than in the UK.

Thomas Hegghammer distributed the twelve countries in question according to the number of foreign fighters per million Muslims and summarized the data in the following table.

Estimation of the number of Muslim foreign fighters in Syria per million Muslims in the country of origin:

The scientist advises to take these figures with reservations, since the general level of radicalization should be taken into account. Not all foreign militants are radical Muslims, he points out, and not all Muslim radicals are ready to fight abroad. There are also limiting factors: it is easier to go to Syria from some countries than from others. Nevertheless, the political scientist believes that politicians in Copenhagen, Oslo, Brussels and Vienna need to take note of these data. The researcher also notes that the greatest "contingents" of the militants probably went from France, Germany and the UK to Syria.

Hegghammer concludes: the number of European foreign fighters in Syria is historically unprecedented and alarming.

The article by Mr. Hegghammer on the Washington Post blog was actively commented. Some reader reviews are of interest. We give them.

What is "foreign fighters"?

“Foreign militants” are countless invisible Muslims all over the world who believe Islamic theologians to violence.
If the Islamic Reformation does not happen, Islam will continue to train (literally) millions of these “foreign fighters”, and the world will be governed by their scenario ...

The most interesting aspect of these data has gone unnoticed: the numbers in absolute terms are very small compared to the 1,6 billion of Muslims in the world (or something like that).
Deploying huge armies against such small numbers is an incredibly expensive strategy.

Well, this is what Europe gets for indiscriminate immigration. The radicalization of Muslims was inevitable as soon as the economy turned south, and now the Europeans will face a pair of jihadist battalions ready to wreak havoc.
Time to sober up!

Personally, I would like to see how all the neocons, the instigators of war in this country, would get the same ...

Thank you for these interesting tables. But “European foreign fighters” may well turn out to be non-European individuals and have many nationalities. Do you have several tables with the origin of the militants? How many Somalis, Moroccans, etc.?

Observed and translated by Oleg Chuvakin
- especially for
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  1. makarov
    makarov 9 December 2013 08: 18
    "The issue of the return of militants to Europe is of great concern to the author of the material ..."
    And in my opinion, the author only voiced a specific fact that worries the government of the countries "material suppliers". After all, the "closing eyes" to what was happening by the governments of the European countries took place under the general tune of the overthrow of Assad. The Wahhabis, however, had a different goal, and now the European countries are beginning to cackle like kluzhi.
    1. PSih2097
      PSih2097 9 December 2013 10: 18
      Quote: makarov
      The Wahhabis, on the other hand, had a different goal, and now the European countries are beginning to claw like Kloshi.

      without Wahhabis, they have a reason claw aki kloshibecause there are already whole neighborhoods of all kinds of Albanians, Turks, etc. there, it’s not so much the police - the special forces are afraid to go ...
      And what is going on there during the prayer, generally keep quiet?
  2. Boris55
    Boris55 9 December 2013 08: 48
    The sowing wind will reap the storm.
    Or maybe all these Arab revolutions were conceived as one of the ways to destroy the pale-faced in Europe ... the USSR is gone and now what for a crowd of parasites to feed ...
    1. Booby
      Booby 9 December 2013 09: 29
      Yeah ... breadwinners were found ...
      1. Boris55
        Boris55 9 December 2013 10: 16
        Quote: Bukh
        Yeah ... breadwinners were found ...

        Europe was the "windscreen" of the capitalist world in the struggle against communist ideology. therefore capitalists maintained a high level of consumption in Europe. The USSR is gone - and the "wind" is not needed either. There is a slow decline in the well-being of the people in both Europe and the United States ... It is simply stupid not to see this. The goals of capitalism have not changed - profit at any cost. democracy, demonstrations - bullshit! No matter how hard the French tried to prohibit the adoption of children of the same sex, the authorities accepted what they needed ...
  3. FC SKIF
    FC SKIF 9 December 2013 10: 40
    The main thing is not to let the green international to us. I wrote about this in "Whose Dam Is Stronger"
    1. alone
      alone 9 December 2013 19: 54
      Quote: FC Skif
      The main thing is not to let the green international to us. I wrote about this in "Whose Dam Is Stronger"

      what You are too late with this offer. Wahhabis have long been in Russia. And their number is estimated from about 700 thousand to 1 million.
  4. Ahmed Osmanov
    Ahmed Osmanov 9 December 2013 11: 01
    The main thing is that these "democrats" do not come to Russia, but unfortunately they will come anyway. I am sure that everyone who has left Russia knows everybody at Lubyanka, so this issue must be resolved by "surgical intervention." And let this issue be resolved in Syria: they will send special forces soldiers and burn out this evil once and for all.
    1. complete zero
      complete zero 9 December 2013 15: 23
      One "Lubyanka" (with the GRU in the bargain) - this issue will not solve
    2. smile
      smile 9 December 2013 16: 15
      Ahmed Osmanov
      Our special services, unfortunately, are not omnipotent, and they cannot know all the mercenaries.
      How do you imagine the targeted work on our mercenaries, often consisting of mixed detachments, plying for reorganization and rearmament in Turkey and vice versa? Is it in Syria, where often everyone is fighting against everyone? Here even localization is difficult, not like destruction ... or do you propose to send troops into Syria and harness the war along with the Syrians? I hope you didn’t get to that, it’s unacceptable.
  5. aszzz888
    aszzz888 9 December 2013 11: 18
    A kennel will fly around the world and who will not be bored with them in the geyrop. Well, for what they fought, they ran into something.
    1. Genera
      Genera 9 December 2013 11: 30
      Imagine: Wahabbits vs LGBT minority. Still it would be illuminated in the media, in the picture.
      1. smile
        smile 9 December 2013 16: 19
        I introduced .... I confess, I don’t even know who I would be rooting for .... they are about the same for me ... no, perhaps still for homosexuals, this rubbish will not take root with us, unlike the Wahhabis, and even the head fagots so far do not seem to cut anyone ... :)))
  6. svskor80
    svskor80 9 December 2013 11: 21
    If there is political will, all "returnees" can (and even need to) be neutralized by all available methods, and this is available to any European special service. Anything else is blatant sabotage of other stakeholders.
    1. Cynic
      Cynic 9 December 2013 16: 19
      Quote: svskor80
      it is available to any European intelligence service

      And the power, this same European, will be able to give such a command? I doubt very much.
  7. alex popov
    alex popov 9 December 2013 14: 07
    a little abstract ... and so the Europeans should erect a monument to Assad and pray for his health and his Sun. The more militants lie in Syria, the less they will return "home" ... Militants with war experience, who have tasted blood and are used to killing and rape right and left ...
    a monument, at least ...
  8. Siberian
    Siberian 9 December 2013 17: 10
    Europe with its loyalty or its fucking ("soft" pink-blue) democracy has spawned these extreme demons, and now WI-WI-WI what to do? And these militants feel well THIS democratic weakness, and will take advantage of this to the fullest.
  9. Leshka
    Leshka 9 December 2013 18: 17
    well, get the guitar lol
  10. SIT
    SIT 9 December 2013 18: 38
    And what are we so worried about Europe? Most of this stuff will return to us in the North Caucasus, Bashkiria and Tatarstan, or nearby - in Central Asia and Crimea. So what are we going to do? Well, they have already run into the mountains and now they will want honors and glory in some thread of a city such as Maskvabad. And here we interfere on our wheelbarrows under our feet and do not give real jigs, or, in general, we’ve gotten demanded that they buy a ticket on the tram. Yes, they cut such packs in Syria! Allahu akbar and feather in the side of kafir. So instead of gloating over Europe, if life is dear to anyone, let us learn basic techniques as gyms, and then in the dark groves to join in the applied aspect of waging hand-to-hand combat for destruction. Pulling fire also does not hurt. Ammo money can be saved on beer.
    1. alone
      alone 9 December 2013 19: 58
      Quote: SIT
      Most of this stuff will return to us in the North Caucasus, Bashkiria and Tatarstan, or nearby - in Central Asia and Crimea. So what are we going to do? Well, they have already run into the mountains and now they will want honors and glory in some thread of a city such as Maskvabad.

      They are not stupid! the crowd will not climb into huge megalopolises. Their tactics have long been known to everyone. Small squads of saboteurs who do not hold beards and do not differ at all are sitting in big cities and are engaged in very important tasks (financial operations, reconnaissance, eliminating people who openly interfere with their activities. if in pride there is an impressive amount of support, then there are sabotage against the security forces, as well as economic war). and the main part are in the mountains and forests and attack the columns and individual cars of the security forces.
  11. Savva30
    Savva30 9 December 2013 21: 10
    What goes around, comes around.