This webinar was conducted on the 30th of September 2020.
Four leading experts presented the logistics of foreign fighters coming from the three ideological milieus:
Asya Metodieva, researcher, Institute of International Relations, Prague, will cover the travel logistics of foreign terrorist fighters from the Balkan from the extremist Islamist milieu.
Pieter van Ostaeyen, KU Leven, PhD candidate, will cover the travel logistics for Western European foreign terrorist fighters from the extremist Islamist milieu.
Kacper Rekawek, affiliated researcher at the Counter Extremism Project and Associate Fellow at GLOBSEC will address the travel logistics of foreign fighters from the extreme right-wing milieu.
Henry Tuck, Head of Policy & Research, Institute of Strategic Dialogue, London, will address the travel logistic of foreign fighters from the anti-ISIS milieu.
David Malet, associate professor, American University, Washington D.C., will act as a discussant.
The event was moderated by Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, Senior Director, Counter Extremism Project.
The last decade saw an immense flurry of interest concerning the issue of foreign (terrorist) fighters. As ISIS gained control over significant areas in Iraq and Syria, a significant flow of foreign recruits occurred. They traveled thousands of miles to reach the conflict zone and join the nascent “Caliphate.” These foreign terrorist fighters were counted, their motivations debated and reassessed, their radicalization pathways scrutinized. In parallel, foreign fighters from the extreme left-wing milieu traveled to join Kurdish groups in Syria and extreme right-wing foreign fighters joined both sides of the conflict in the Ukraine. These two additional flows of foreign fighters received less public attention.
The logistics of becoming a foreign (terrorist) fighter, i.e. organization and preparation of their travel, has been less in the public spotlight. The questions of how they got there, by what means of transport, what route they took, how it was all financed, who might have been behind the travel’s facilitation seemed of less interest compared to studying the fighters’ radicalization profiles. The travel’s (lack of) success, potential close calls on the way, the reception after arrival, and cultural acclimatization to new surroundings sometimes featured in the studies devoted to the fighters but have not been assessed in a separate study.
This webinar aimed to bridge this knowledge gap concerning the travel logistics underpinning the flow of foreign recruits and provides a comparative perspective while looking at the same issues for three sets of foreign (terrorist) fighters: extreme Islamist terrorist foreign fighters, extreme right-wing (heading to Ukraine), and extreme left-wing (heading to Syria) foreign fighters.