September 30, 2015 | Quote

Global Efforts Fail to Stem Flow of Foreign Fighters to Syria, Iraq

Slow progress in the U.S.-led effort to ultimately destroy the Islamic State terror group is being mirrored by equally sluggish progress in the attempt to stem the flow of foreign fighters to the combat zones in Syria and Iraq.

For months now, U.S. military officials have said the Islamic State has been finding ways to replace fighters lost to the now more than 7,000 coalition airstrikes “at the rate we kill them.” And while some of these newcomers are novices to the art of guerrilla warfare and terror, many more are not.

INTERPOL, the international police organization, said Wednesday its database of fingerprints and other data needed to help identify foreign fighters has increased to more than 4,000 so-called “identifiers.” Officials said information sharing among member states has also increased, leading to some apprehensions.

Analysts also point to the actions of Sunni Arab countries in the Middle East, some of which had tacitly supported the flow of foreign fighters, seeing it as a chance to take down the Syria’s Shi'ite rulers.

“It’s too early to point to success stories, but the fact that this is much higher up on Arab states’ radars is very clear,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “There have been measures taken to disallow travel, for example, males of certain age groups, to monitor people who are returnees from the area, and to deal with it from both a criminal justice approach and also from a demobilization slash rehabilitative approach.”


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