Hundreds of Europeans have travelled to Syria since the start of the civil war to fight against the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, the most comprehensive study of European foreign fighters to date has found.
The largest contingent, the study found, came from the UK, with estimates of fighters running between 28 and 134.
Based on their populations, the figures for Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland, with about 200 fighters between them, made these countries the most significant, the lead researcher, Prof Peter Neumann from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College, said.
"The numbers are still quite small in terms of the overall percentage but in absolute numbers I think it is higher now than any other conflict since Iraq. But Iraq went on for years and years. But here we have in the space of a year effectively – since early 2012 – you can already speak of thousands of [foreign fighters]. In Iraq that took two or three years to reach that point so it is really significant.
I wonder what the breakdown is in terms of how many are converted, radicalised Europeans and how many are immigrants (and what generation the immigrant ones are). I have heard from Germans for example that the immigrant generations raised in Germany have higher rates of radicals than the first generation, but I don’t have a source for this.
That these people are among us and their numbers are inevitably growing due to demographics really concerns me. Western Europe as we know it is probably already doomed, most people my age here simply don’t recognize that this is a problem. Once the Eastern EU reaches a certain level of development they may start moving there as well taking advantage of the right to free movement throughout the EU. Unfortunately it looks like the only thing capable of fostering resistance would be a nationalist reaction, and even that becomes more and more improbable as society becomes progressively more liberal.[/FONT][/COLOR]