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What the research says on EU Foreign Fighters (FF)

The ICCT (International Centre for Counter-Terrorism) of the Hague has released its report : "The Foreign Fighters Phenomenon of the European Union" which has pointed out the following realities: Total FF are estimated at 3,922 to 4,294 with some 30% having returned to the EU and 14% confirmed dead. Gender some 17% of FF are female. Residence some 90 to 100% of FF come from urban or built up areas. Converts some 6 to 23% of FF are converts to Islam. The report states that some 2,838 FF the majority come from 4 countries: Belgium, France, Germany and the UK with Belgium having the highest per capita FF contingent. The report comes to the conclusion that "there is no clear-cut profile of a European FF" and another conclusion "There is no clear pattern with regard to the nationality of the FF." The reality revealed by the report is the complexity and heterogeneous nature of what is termed an EU FF. There are 4 EU states that show a predilection to generate FF but there is no common reality across all 4 states. Both citizens and residents of the EU states they left to become FF are represented in the sample as is both converts and persons who grew up in Muslim homes and in the Ummah. Some 17% of FF are females which points to a threat across genders and FF are drawn overwhelmingly from urban and suburban areas which is the basis of the knowledge for operations in urban areas. What the report reveals is that the sociology of specific groups in specific environments and the psychology of the individual impacts the response to the discourse of the Islamic duty to Jihad and Hijra. There can then be no meta theory of radicalisation as the specificity of the group and the individual are paramount and the only viable response is surveillance based on human intelligence. But the analysts and operatives must be versed in the Islamic discourse and the sociology of the group and the psychology of the individual. A herculean task for Europeans with worldviews grounded in the European Enlightenment. The agenda must then end the media frenzy with its racist underpinnings and place in the public domain that this is a long war with casualties that are inevitable, deal with it.

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