Islamic Militants in Iraq Attracting Recruits from Western Countries

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 13, 2014 11:01 AM EST

Even as the US jets are bombing the advancing wave of Islamic State (ISIS) forces in northern Iraq, the militant outfit is attracting hundreds of recruits from different countries, including the west.

Reuters
A displaced child from minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to Islamic State in Sinjar town, rests as she makes her way, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate August 10, 2014. Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq's human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday. The Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, has prompted tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians to flee for their lives during their push to within a 30-minute drive of the Kurdish regional capital Arbil. Picture taken August 10, 2014.

A report in Newsweek gives an example of Kosovo. The police on Monday arrested 40 Kosovo men suspected to be having links with Islamist insurgents in Syria and Iraq. Kosovo is an Albanian country with Islam as the main religion with a secular lifestyle. The crackdown was aimed at deterring recruitment of volunteer fighters.

The police also seized weapons and ammunition in the major operation.  The men are being questioned for engaging in acts endangering Kosovo's constitutional order and the safety and security of the state.

Many European countries including Britain, France and the Netherlands have stepped up vigil and are cracking down on citizens, mainly of Islamic immigrant background to prevent them from joining the radical Islamist outfits in Syria and Iraq.  They fear such volunteers would eventually return to Europe battle-hardened and enhance security threats.

Killed in Syria

Last week, an 18-year-old man from eastern Kosovo was killed in Syria. With it, the total number of Kosovo Albanians killed in Iraq and Syria became 16. According to Kosovo police, estimated 100-200 citizens have moved to Syria and Iraq for combats.

Kosovo's social media recently witnessed viral pictures of one Lavdrim Muhaxheri, who is a self-styled leader of Kosovo Albanians working for ISIS, and decapitating a teenager in Iraq. Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga has ordered crackdown on such militants who are heading to Iraq and Syria.

Legislation Soon

Kosovo will soon ban citizens from joining foreign insurgencies and the guilty will be in prison for 15 years upon conviction. Kosovo gained independence from Serbia in 2008 after a bloody uprising.

Recruits from the West

Even from the US, there are cases of young Somali-Americans joining the Islamic State or ISIS. The Mintpress News recently quoted the FBI office in Minneapolis which said such recruits are entering Syria through Turkey. For years, large Somali-American community was a recruitment ground for militant groups.

The unemployed youth are targeted by Islamist militant groups with religious appeals. Many Somali-Americans are lured by outfits like Al-Shabab and others, the report said.

In the US, the Federal law bans American citizens from taking up arms in foreign countries. The law prohibits citizens from joining any militant or terrorist groups in any part the world.

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(Photo: Reuters / Rodi Said)
A displaced child from minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to Islamic State in Sinjar town, rests as she makes her way, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate August 10, 2014. Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq's human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday. The Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, has prompted tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians to flee for their lives during their push to within a 30-minute drive of the Kurdish regional capital Arbil. Picture taken August 10, 2014.
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