Jihadists from Russia and Central Asia are pouring into the ISIS caliphate, four times more than a year ago, the Daily Beast reports.
Across the globe, the number of foreign fighters traveling to Iraq and Syria continues to climb, but Russia and Central Asia have experienced the most dramatic change over the past year, with some estimates suggesting a 300 percent increase.
Russia, with an estimated 2,400 fighters, is now believed to be the third biggest supplier of foreign fighters to radical Islamist groups fighting in Iraq and Syria, according to new analysis from the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm based in New York.
In June 2014, it was estimated that Russia had around 800 foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria.
“Comparatively speaking, this increase is far more substantial proportionately than that seen in Western Europe over the same time span,” the Soufan Group says in a report it plans to release tomorrow. The Daily Beast obtained an early copy.
The only two countries who currently supply more fighters are Tunisia, with an estimated 6,000, and Saudi Arabia, with 2,500. Jordan also continues to rank among the top nationalities fighting with the so-called Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda franchise, with somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 Jordanians leaving home to fight in Iraq or Syria.
The majority of Russia’s foreign fighters is coming from the North Caucasus—Chechnya and Dagestan, areas with long histories of Islamic extremism.
“Local grievances have long been drivers of radicalization in the Caucasus, and as the strong centralized security apparatus of the Russian government limits the scope for operations at home, the Islamic State has offered an attractive alternative,” the Soufan Group report says.
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