The variety of Westerners who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to battle for ISIS continues to grow, according to U.S. officials, and has now reached 3,400. But the very same officials hope that recent military successes against ISIS, and a series of initiatives by Western governments, will reverse that trend.
“European nations as well as the U.S. are much better monitoring the flow, and growing enforcement to staunch the flow,” stated 1 U.S. official. There have been current round-ups in France, Britain and the U.S.
Numerous fighters heading to the ISIS caliphate travel via Turkey, and some observers have questioned the willingness — or the capacity — of the Turkish government to intervene. There are indications, nonetheless, that Western lobbying is bearing fruit. The Turks “are applying more strain,” stated the official.
The official additional that more military successes towards ISIS would “presumably assist the most going forward.” With assist from Western airstrikes, Kurdish forces have rolled back ISIS on the northern edge of the caliphate, but the Islamic State’;s march via the Sunni heartlands of Syria and Iraq has only been slowed, not stopped.
Officials say it will take time prior to analysts can determine whether the initiatives or military action will slow the influx of fighters.
In testimony Thursday, Gen. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, informed Congress the intelligence neighborhood now estimates that 3,400 citizens from Western nations have traveled to Syria and Iraq. That is 700 far more than November’;s estimate of 2,700 — though officials say some portion of the increased headcount represents enhanced intelligence, not new recruits.
The numbers, Clapper explained, are vital to comprehending the possible for attacks in the West.
“If ISIL were to considerably boost the priority it spots on attacking the West rather than fighting to keep and increase territorial control, then the group’;s entry to radicalized Westerners who have fought in Syria and Iraq would offer a pool of operatives who potentially have access to the United States and other Western countries,” he said.
The U.S. intelligence local community has also upped its estimate of the quantity of foreign fighters from all in excess of the planet, not just the West. Clapper explained that ISIS now has twenty,000 foreign fighters, up from sixteen,000 final fall, out of a total fighting force of as several as 31,000.
Clapper’;s testimony also upped the variety of U.S. citizens who’;ve traveled or attempted to travel to Syria to fight for any of the groups battling the Assad regime. 6 months in the past, the number was estimated at 100, then a lot more lately 150. In his Thursday testimony, he place the quantity at approximately 180. He indicated that U.S. law enforcement is monitoring individuals who have returned. U.S. officials have said in the previous that the variety of fighters currently engaged in fighting for ISIS is “around a dozen.”
Officials say the Islamic State’;s appeal is broad, with at least 90 nations supplying fighters. Amongst them are massive numbers from central Asia, which includes the restive Chinese province of Xinjiang, the Caucasus, and the Balkans, particularly Bosnia. A new trend, explained a U.S. official, is an influx of females, particularly from the West.
“We do not break things down by gender,” mentioned the official, but the amount of females is “not insignificant.” ISIS has been making use of social media to encourage youthful girls to join the group. In a lot of cases, they are enticed with the guarantee of marriage to ISIS fighters.
U.S. agencies have differed on the all round dimension of the ISIS fighting force, with the intelligence neighborhood sticking with a selection of 20,000 to 31,500 whilst the Pentagon thinks the variety could be as lower as 17,000. The intelligence community’;s estimate is created on reports from other intelligence companies in the Arab world and the West. Individuals numbers often cover different reporting intervals and can be inconsistent in their specificity. France, for example, has really specific numbers. Other countries offer very general estimates.
“It truly is undeniable that there’;s been an enhance in numbers,” said the official, but additional that as with the quantity of Western fighters, it truly is not particular how a lot of the rise is due to new recruits, and how considerably is attributable to better accounting.
First published February 28 2015, 5:40 AM
Robert Windrem is an investigative reporter/producer with NBC Information. His specialty is international safety, on-camera commentary on international protection for MSNBC and writer on global safety for NBCNews.com
Winner of 45 national journalism awards, which includes an Emmy as effectively as Dupont-Columbia, Nationwide Press Club, Sigma Delta Chi, 3 Edward R. Murrow and 8 National Headliners Club awards. He has also been nominated for an Emmy 19 instances.
Windrem made the first report on U.S. television on Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda in January 1997 developed the first within appear of CIA Headquarters on U.S. television in February 1994 arranged and produced exclusive interviews with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in New York in September 2006, and in Tehran in July 2008. He also produced comprehensive reviews on “Nightly Information” concerning nuclear proliferation in Israel, South Africa, Iraq and Iran as properly as reviews on the Mexican drug wars al Qaeda US drone attacks in Pakistan, the Boston Marathon bombings, the Washington, D.C., snipers campaign finance scandals, defense procurement abuse, and intelligence technological innovation, between several other individuals.
He contributed to NBC Information documentaries on the war on terrorism, Hurricane Katrina and nuclear method.
Windrem co-wrote with William E. Burrows, “Essential Mass: the Harmful Race for Superweapons in a Fragmenting Planet”, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994.
He has appeared far more than 300 occasions as an expert on nationwide safety concerns on MSNBC, NBC News and CNBC as nicely as CBC in Canada, BBC in the United kingdom, Channel 2 in Israel and ABC in Australia. Most just lately he served as a consultant on an Israeli Television documentary on Arnon Milchan, the Hollywood producer and arms dealer.
He is a graduate of Seton Hall University with a degree in communications arts. He also pursued a graduate degree in American Scientific studies at Seton Hall.
… Broaden Bio