Friday, December 4, 2015

Western Citizens Who Go to Fight in Syria and Iraq

This article first appeared in Eagle Rising.

There has been much talk in the past couple of years about Muslims residing in Europe or North America (and Australia) who have left their countries of residence to travel to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS. Many of them obtain military training there, fight. and in many cases return to their country of origin to carry out terrorist attacks in the West. This was most recently illustrated in the recent Paris attacks, in which some of the attackers had returned to France from Syria.

There are varying estimates of the numbers of Western Muslims who have gone to join ISIS.  I believe the current estimate in the US is about 250 (though I hardly trust the figures given by our current administration.) Last January, I attended a public event hosted by the Islamic Center of Orange County in Garden Grove, California. It was there that the director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, in Southern California, Hussam Ayloush, said in my presence that according to US Government estimates, only a dozen or so American Muslims had gone to join ISIS. He asked how many American Jews had gone to Israel to join the Israeli Defense Forces, "killing the people of Gaza".

In addition, in October of 2014, I attended a speech at California State University at Long Beach by University of Michigan professor Juan Cole, a noted apologist for Islamists. In answer to a question from a student about Jihadi John and other British Muslims who had joined ISIS, Cole accused British Prime Minister David Cameron and his government of being racists and Islamophobes for telling the public that some 400 British Muslims had joined ISIS. Cole added that this represented a "minuscule number" compared to the 4 million people in Britain who were Muslims. Left unstated was any estimate of how much mayhem 400 terrorists could cause if they returned to Britain.

So it's several hundred now from Britain and several thousand from France. The latest estimate I heard is that some 4,000-6,000 Western Muslims have joined ISIS.  From Muslim countries, the numbers are much higher.

We can quibble about the numbers. Perhaps, the above numbers are too high or too low. But here is my question: How many Western Muslims-or Muslims from any other countries have gone to Syria or Iraq to fight against ISIS?

I have yet to hear of one.

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