Maps Show 31,000 Mercenaries from 86 Countries Fight for ISIS


 The number of foreign fighters who have joined ISIS and other extremist groups on the battlefield has doubled to more than 30,000 in the last 18 months, a new report has revealed.

It found fanatics from all corners of the globe including Western Europe, Asia and Russia and parts of North Africa are heading to Iraq and Syria in greater numbers than ever before.

The well trained, battle hardened returnees are capable of orchestrating deadly lone wolf attacks such as the one that devastated Paris attacks, respected terror analysts told MailOnline.


New figures show 31,000 fighters from 86 countries have travelled to join ISIS in the Middle East – up from just 12,000 last year, according to the anti-terror think tank Soufan Group, which advises governments on terror.

From the 31,000 who travel to the Middle East, up to 30 per cent could return to their home countries to carry out terror attacks, the report says.

All nine of the terrorists behind last month’s Paris terror attacks had spent time at training camps in Syria before returning back to France and Belgium to commit mass murder.

U.S. based terror expert Peter Chalk, of respected anti-terror think tank RAND, told MailOnline disenfranchised young men who feel marginalized at home leave behind their families in search of adventure and the lure of money and women.

‘ISIS pays fighters $200 a month salary, which is a lot of money for unemployed people coming from poor, underdeveloped states where the prospect of a well-paying job is effectively zero.

Fighters are paid with funds raised from the sale of Syria’s oil, the terrorist group’s main resource.
Last summer ISIS announced a tax to keep its economy churning and pay those travelling to Syria to fight.

While ISIS brainwash people into thinking they are fighting for Islam, those who travel to join them are nothing more than mercenary ‘guns for hire’, said Russian Defence Ministry deputy head, Anatoly Antonov.

He said last month: ‘Today some 25,000 to 30,000 foreign terrorist “mercenaries” are fighting for ISIS, including those from the Pacific Rim countries and, unfortunately, Russia too.

‘Should they return home, carrying the potential for violence and extremism, they will be preaching radical ideas in our countries or will organize subversive activities,’


Every region has seen a rise in brainwashed terrorists but none more than Russia where 7,000 fighters have left this year, up from 800 in 2014.

The Balkans, traditionally home to a ‘small but sizeable population of violent extremists’, has also seen a rapid rise, with 800 fighters from Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo or Macedonia in Syria.

Of the 5,000 to leave Europe for Syria, 3,695 come from four countries – the UK, Germany, France and Belgium.

Broken down, around 1,700 are from France, 760 from the UK, another 760 from  Germany and 470 from Belgium.


Soufan Group’s report claims ISIS recruits African immigrants in France and Belgium with false promises of ‘belonging, purpose and respect’.

Data from the Horn of Africa is more difficult to obtain but around 70 fighters from Somalia, home to al Qaeda affiliated al Shabaab, are thought to be fighting in Syria.

Around 900 fanatics from Asia including Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia are now thought to have travelled to Syria and Iraq.

In August, ISIS issued a rallying cry to the Muslims of Indonesia and the Far East by sharing a picture of a baby lying next to an AK47 and a hand grenade. A note beside it read: ‘Uncles and aunts come and fight in Syria for”jihad” wherever you are.’

Despite the rise in foreign fighters from Europe, the flow of people from the Americas ‘has remained relatively stable’, the report said.

FBI Director James Comey said only 150 people from U.S. had successfully gone to Syria, with 100 being prevented from going.

The Canadian authorities said 130 had gone to Syria and just a handful from South America.
The report claimed most fanatics leave for adventure, power and a sense of belonging in the Middle East.

Those who return not only carry out attacks themselves, but radicalize and train other would be terrorist, Chalk told MailOnline.

He also said the danger of radicalization is heightened even further by ISIS propaganda, adding: ‘The issue of self-radicalization also looms large… The recent shootings in the US San Bernandino, California appear to have stemmed from a couple who were driven to terrorism through exposure to ISIS propaganda they accessed through the Internet.’

The report shows how ISIS has corrupted hearts and minds in every corner of the globe, which has in turn created hotbeds of extremism.

Other example is Belgian region of Molenbeek, home of Paris terror attacks mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud, to the tiny Norwegian district of Lisleby home to 6,000 people where eight people have left for Syria.

Molenbeek is dubbed the ‘jihadi capital of Europe’ because it is believed to be a hotbed of terrorist activity.

Belgium’s Interior Minister Jan Jambon confirmed the majority of the country’s foreign fighters came from Brussels – and particularly from Molenbeek.

Others areas of concentrated fanaticism included Bizerte and Ben Gardane in Tunisia, which has contributed more foreign fighters to ISIS than any other country, Derna in Libya and the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia.



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