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A Comparative Analysis of the Data on Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq: Who Went and Why?

Causes of radicalisationThink-tankWorld

Journal abstract

This report offers a concise, comprehensive, and critical overview of the empirical findings available on the background and possible motivations of the young Western men and women who became jihadist foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. The findings were gathered from thirty-four reports and academic articles published between 2014 and 2019. The analysis addresses the data on demographic factors, economic and social marginalisation, past criminality, mental health issues, and the role of ideology and religion. The report summarises the findings, delineates the methodological limitations, and identifies some of the interpretive biases present in much the research.

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