Secrets of the “black international” of ISIS
Who is really fighting for the Caliphate?
One of the manifestations of cross-border nature of modern radical Islamism, incarnated in the practice of the so-called “Islamic state” (ISIS) is a terrorist organization banned in Russia – was the process of involvement of this group of supporters from various countries for the purposes of warfare.
In UN documents, this category is defined as a “foreign terrorist fighters” (foreign terrorist fighters), which means “persons traveling in the state other than the place of their residence or citizenship, with the purpose of committing, planning, preparation or participation in the Commission of terrorist acts or terrorist training or that training, including in connection with an armed conflict”1.
This phenomenon appeared not today. Back in the late 80-ies of the last century one of the founders of “al-Qaeda” Abdullah Azam put forward the slogan that “the protection of brothers in the faith, in danger, is the sacred duty of every Muslim, wherever he was”2. Recent history shows several examples of the practice of recruiting Muslim radicals foreign terrorist fighters: in 1980-1992 they participated in the war in Afghanistan on the side of the Mujahideen, in the 90-ies of XX century fought on the side of Bosnian Muslims during the war in Yugoslavia, participated in the fighting in the composition of the gangs in Chechnya, in 2003 they were used against the forces of the international coalition in Iraq.
However, the scope that this phenomenon has gained in recent years in Iraq and Syria far exceeds all preceding episodes. According to estimates cited in the documents of international organizations and some Western analytical centers, after circulated in June 2014 the appeal of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to Muslims of the world to join the ranks of the jihadists, a number of foreign terrorist fighters joining ISIL, grew unprecedented rate in 2016 is already estimated at the level of 27-31 thousand3. (For comparison: over the entire period of the war in Afghanistan in the fighting was attended by 20 thousand foreign fighters4).
The range of States whose citizens are involved in the fighting on the side of ISIS, has a global reach. According to Western estimates, along with the citizens of Iraq and Syria in the ranks of the group established the presence of representatives of 86 countries. The main number of fighters (75%) are in 12 countries: Tunisia (6 to 7 thousand), Saudi Arabia (over 2.5 million), Turkey, Jordan (on 2-2,5 thousand), France (1.7 million), Morocco (from 1.2 to 1.5 thousand), Indonesia, Egypt, UK, Germany, and Lebanon (500 to 1 thousand)5. According to Western estimates, the number of immigrants from Russia, who went to the location of ISIS in Syria and Iraq since June 2014 has increased by more than three times, and according to the first half of 2016 consisted of about 2900 people. At the same time the total number of militants from CIS countries who joined the ranks of ISIS, according to experts of the American analytical center “Sufan group” was estimated at 4,700 people6.
A similar increase in the number of foreign component in ISIS foreign experts explain a number of reasons.
A key factor in the appeal of ISIS in the eyes of the Muslim world considered the fact of occurrence of this quasi-state, whose influence is not confined to the sphere of ideology and propaganda, as in the case of “al-Qaeda”, and is provided with real control over a specific territory. As noted on this occasion, the Indonesian scientist D. Pereira, “the slogan of the struggle for the Caliphate, while seemingly primitive, appealing to deeper feelings of Muslims all over the world.At the time, prior to the elimination of the Caliphate in 1924 as a result of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire was perceived by the Muslim community as the total defeat of European imperialism. Since that time, the idea of revival of Caliphate nourishes the hope of the Muslims for the creation of a global scale single political and religious centre, which aims to unite fellow believers in a common civilizational force able to take revenge on the West”7.
Decisive role in the process of implementing the idea of fighting for the Caliphate in the collective consciousness of Muslims in the world plays the Islamist ISIS propaganda. It works on the most modern media platforms, in fact, on a global scale and is characterized by great flexibility and the ability to appeal to the needs of different groups of potential recruits.As noted in the report of the special Commission of the French Senate, the fundamentalists offer “simple answers to spiritual and vital questions,skillfully beat the idea of belonging to a group possessing a distinct identity and oppose themselves to the rest of the world.” As a result, young radicals find the idea of Jihad “a coherent system of values, which they are unable to find in their country”8.
To stimulate the exit of foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq is an important dramatization of socio-economic problems and characteristics of the “countries of origin” of the militants. Used in this argument is differentiated. So, in Western countries the emphasis is on the problem of “weak integration of Muslim youth in contemporary post-industrial society”. In developing countries increasingly played up the desire of potential militants “to improve their financial situation”9.
An important role to replenish the ranks of ISIS played by the network of channels “jihadist transit”, used for logistics and transport troops to a location group. Central to this extensive logistics structure remains the land of the Turkish-Syrian border, which, despite Ankara’s intensive efforts to cut off ISIS supply channels from its territory, is of very “porous” nature of10.
Pribivaya in Syria and Iraq foreign fighters play a significant role in the structure of ISIS. So, foreigners on a national basis are often formed separate shock troops. Examples include the division “Jaish al-Muhajirin”, consisting of immigrants from Russia and other CIS countries, and “Katib Nusantara” (“detachment of the Malay archipelago”), made up of Indonesians and Malaysians. Along with participation in the fighting foreigners attract to conduct operations at the “intimidation” of the local population, where local fighters seek not to participate.
It is highly demanded in ISIS are foreigners of different civilian professions, especially physicians and computer scientists. As having a higher level of training than the local fighters, they are often appointed to senior positions in different sections of the groups11.
The subject of increased concern in many countries is the prospect of the departure of foreign fighters from areas of hostilities and the return to places of their permanent residence. As noted in the “terrorist threat Assessment for the Netherlands”, prepared by the office of the government of this country, “the terrorists will not only infected with radical ideas: they are psychologically traumatized by participation in warfare and ready to new acts of violence”12. Confirmation of such predictions can be the fact that for example all persons involved in the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, gained combat experience on the side of ISIS in Syria and Iraq13.
At the conclusion of the Western experts, taking into account combat losses in the country of origin will be able to return 20-30% of the fighters out of active combatants14. According to the given estimates, only for Europe and the US this figure may reach 1.5 thousand jihadists, who had combat experience and established contacts with like-minded people in different countries15.
Before you face the real prospect of increasing terrorist risk in many countries there is a growing awareness of the need for active opposition to the transit of their citizens in the location of the ISIS. Law enforcement agencies of many countries are increasing efforts to identify forms and methods of recruiting, identifying and neutralizing individuals, with the intent to join ISIL, to cut off the channels of exit of foreign fighters in combat areas and their subsequent return.New laws or amendments to existing anti-terrorist legislation designed to control the channel of exit of its citizens in Iraq and Syria, adopted by 45 States. In 35 countries manufactured the detention of persons suspected of belonging to ISIS or hatched intentions to travel to the location of this group. In 12 States, individuals in this category have been sentenced to real terms of imprisonment16.
Aktiviziruyutsya inter-state cooperation on exchange of information on the movements of foreign fighters at the bilateral and international levels. Practical step in this direction was the signing in July of 2016, the police chiefs of ASEAN member States “Protocol on cooperation and coordination in case of crisis situations”, which aims to enhance the exchange of intelligence information on the movements of foreign fighters and providing mutual support in the event of a major terrorist attack17. Regular exchange of data on foreign fighters is in the format of the information Centre of the counter-terrorism of Interpol, which includes more than 50 States18.
However, despite the measures taken to limit the inflow of foreign fighters into is ranks, the changes are not yet occurred.
In the circumstances, it recognized the need to implement a comprehensive approach to the problem of foreign terrorist fighters, which should include the following aspects:
– analysis of the situation in major countries – suppliers of manpower for ISIS, especially in the part relating to the adoption of measures to prevent departure of foreign terrorist fighters in the cantonments of this group;
– taking actions for identification and overlapping of channels of transportation of potential jihadists to the areas of activities of the group and eliminate all identified “transit hubs”;
creation of the mechanism for international exchange of experiences and “best practices” impeding the departure of foreign terrorist fighters in areas controlled by ISIL;
– improvement of forms of international intelligence-sharing on foreign terrorist fighters planning, located or returning from combat areas LIH19.
Noting the importance of the listed activities in curbing the flow of foreign fighters into is ranks, foreign experts come to the conclusion that the main condition for the effective solution of this task is “applying a group of military defeat”20. It is recognized that only in this case, you can count on the destruction of the image of ISIS as a force that can retain and expand their positions and, as a consequence, the termination of the feeding groups at the expense of foreign terrorist fighters21.
Western experts agree that the solution to this problem requires “pooling resources and coordinating efforts of all stakeholders.” However, until recently, consideration of the interaction was limited solely by the scope of the coalition led by the United States. The role of the Russian factor in the fight against ISIS to date not only have not received adequate evaluation in the West, but has been subjected to critical attack in the context of global anti-Russian campaign of recent years22.
However, the new diplomatic initiatives of Russia in the field of international fight against terrorism, in particular, laying the foundations for a new format of international cooperation in the fight against ISIS along with Turkey and Iran, do not involve the participation of the countries of the West, forcing the latter to seek constructive dialogue with Moscow.Against this background, the first signals coming from the administration elected President of the USA D. trump and team F. Fillon, former Vice-President of France, about their willingness to build cooperation with Russia in combating international terrorism, give reason for cautious optimism about the prospects of forming a United anti-ISIS coalition.
- Cm. Resolution 2178 (2014) adopted by the UN Security Council on 7272 meeting, September 24, 2014 //United Nations[official website]on 24 September 2014. P.2.
- D. There. ISIS Goes Global. Fight the Islamic State by Targeting its Affiliates.Foreign Affairs,Vol.95, N 2 March-April 2016.
- See,for example, Foreign Fighters. An Updated Assessment of the Flow of Foreign Fighters into Syria and Iraq. The Soufan Group. December 2015, p.4
- P. R. Neumann. Total Foreign Fighters in Syria/Iraq now exceeds 20,000; surpasses Afghanistan conflict in the1980s. International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (Jan. 26,2015), (date accessed: 22.12.2016)
- H. Lang and M. Al Wari. The Flow of Foreign Fighters to the Islamic State. Assessing the Challenge and the Response. Center for American Progress. March 2016, p.6.
- See, Foreign Fighters. The Soufan Group,p. 14
- D. Pereira. Jakarta Holds Key to Keeping S-E Asia Safe in War on Terror. Global Indonesian Voices. 23 Feb 2015
- Sueur J-P. Filiers ‘djihadistes’ pour une roponse global et sans faiblesse. Rapport fait au nom de la Comissiond’enqu^ete sur l organisationet les moyens de la lutte contreles reseaux djihadistes en France et en Europe//Senat [ official website], April 1, 2015.
- Cm. Kazantsev A. A. the Problem of recruitment and return of terrorist fighters: the experience of Europe and prospects of Russia, N27/2016[ CH redu Igor Ivanov]; Russian international Affairs Council (RIAC).- M. Specchia,2016.- p.9.
- H. Lang and M. Al Wari,Op.cit.p.15
- National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, “Letter from the Minister of Security and Justice to the House of Representatives of the States General containing a summary of the 33rd edition of the Terrorist Threat Assessment for the Netherlands (DTN33), July 1, 2013.
- R. Lyengar,”The Paris Attacks Were Planned in Syria,Says Frech Prime Minister Manuel Valz, Time,November,16,2015.
- The Soufan Group, “The murky challenge of returning foreign fighters”, December 9, 2015.
- A. Y. Zelin, “Foreign Fighters Motivations”, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy,2015.
- The White House, “Fact Sheet: Maintaining Momentum in the Fight against ISIL,” the Press-Release, January 15, 2016.
- P. Parameswaran. ASEAN Police Chiefs Ink New Pact Amid Islamic State Fears. The Diplomat, July 29, 2016.
- H. Lang and M. Al Wari. The Flow of Foreign Fighters to the Islamic State. Assessing the Challenge and the Response. Center for American Progress. March 2016, pp.14-17.
- Ibid., p.17
- W. mccants project IS The Apocalypse^ The History,Strategy and DoomsdayVision of the Islamic State. New York, St.Martin’s Press, 2015.
- See, for example, D. There. ISIS Goes Global. Fight the Islamic State by Targeting its Affiliates. Foreign Affairs, Vol.95, N 2 March-April 2016.