The Making of 'Foreign Fighters'

Recruitment of foreign fighters has been crucial to the survival and development of violent Islamist groups/organisations in a dynamic environment. This can be seen from the exponential upsurge in recruitment since the beginning of the 21st century following the 9/11 events. Islamist militant groups have been operating and developing in a context of an increasing number of conflicts worldwide. Adaptation to a new global environment and improved recruitment strategies have helped them to endure and enhance their capacity, to carry forward their activities, and to increase the number of their followers.

This research project examines recruitment of foreign fighters to violent Islamist groups/organisations carried out in different contexts (environments). The main research focus is 1) on the methods of recruitment and 2) on the motivations of individuals to join these entities. Theoretically, this touches upon the meso (group/organisational) and micro (individual) levels of analysis. Specifically, this study addresses how violent Islamist entities recruit individuals from different environments and why individuals enter these groups/organisations (motivating factors). The project aims to explore the cases of foreign fighters’ recruitment from Central Asia and Western Europe. These two regions show that the flow of foreign fighters to violent Islamist groups/organisations has become a problem for different countries regardless of their social, economic, and political levels of development.

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