In the beginning of reporting about ISIS, ISIL, and Islamic State, the first thing to determine is how big is this group of rebel forces? It was initially described as a violent spin off from al Qaeda. Next, it took on its own identity as an apparent strategy emerged for the organization to create a caliphate. Still, the question persisted: how many? U.S. intelligence dribbled out with numbers ranging from 15,000 to 25,000. Today’s report from Eric Holder via the Voice of America is 7,000 to 23,000. There is too much fudge in that estimate, and at this stage, that is ridiculous.
“Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder said he was concerned fighters from Europe and the United States were supporting violent insurgents in Syria and joining forces with Yemeni bomb makers.
U.S. intelligence agencies estimate around 7,000 of the 23,000 violent extremists operating in Syria’s civil war are foreign fighters, mostly from Europe. Australian intelligence chief David Irvine said Wednesday 15 Australians are believed to have died fighting in Syria and Iraq, and that about 60 Australians are fighting with jihadist groups like IS.”
Alright, since we can’t get the facts from U.S. intelligence services and the FBI, let’s travel to the University of Denver Korbel School of International Relations.
The Voice of America went to Jonathan Adelman, a scholar there to produce some facts:
- 100 Americans
- 400-500 Britains
- 2000 Westerners and mobile non Westerners
A total of approximately 2,600 individuals could penetrate their homelands to bring IS terror there. That doesn’t account for friends and family members who may have an affinity with their Islamic State allegiance. This analyst multiplies 2,600 by 3 = 7,800 prospective terrorists. This underscores the necessity to have the Department of Homeland Security on a significant level of alert, beginning at airports and border crossings.
This analysis also points to why there must be surveillance of American citizens who may be touched by domestic IS participants.
Jonathan Adelman, associate professor at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Relations, said these foreign fighters, with the training they receive, pose a serious threat to Western nations, including the United States.
"The fact that there are these estimated 100 Americans, there’s an estimated 400-500 Brits, there’s several hundred French. There’s about 2,000 Westerners in this (IS) group, plus some non-Westerners who could easily come into the United States and I think this is something that really we have to take very seriously. It isn’t as remote as we thought it was after Osama bin Laden was killed," said Adelman.
Adelman said many of these foreign fighters are being recruited through social media.”