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  • Author: Brian Dodwell, Daniel Milton, Don Rassler
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of over 4,600 unique Islamic State personnel records that were produced by the group primarily between early 2013 and late 2014. The importance of this data for understanding the Islamic State and, in particular, the foreign fighter flow, cannot be overstated. To put it simply, it is the largest cache of primary source documents produced by the Islamic State available in the open-source as of this date. These particular documents were acquired by NBC News from an Islamic State defector and subsequently provided to the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (and other entities). This report provides a window into the organization’s global workforce, revealing information about foreign fighters’ countries of origin, citizenship, points of entry into Syria, marital status, skills and previous occupations, education levels, religious knowledge, fighting role preferences in the group, and previous jihadist experience. In addition to analyzing the data at the macro-level, the report also highlights numerous anecdotes of individual fighters. Taken together, the analysis in this report reveals an organization that is attempting to vet new members, manage talent effectively within the organization, and deal with a diverse pool of recruits.
  • Topic: ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Zachary Abuza
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Since early-2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made gradual inroads into Southeast Asia. There are an estimated 500 Southeast Asians, not including family and kin, in Iraq and Syria fighting for ISIS, as well as al-Nusra, which at first attracted far more Southeast Asians. Since August 2014, there has been a company of Bahasa-speaking Southeast Asians, Katibah Nusantara, within ISIS. The numbers have remained low only because of proactive policies from regional security forces, who are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the 1990s when they turned a blind eye to returning veterans of the Afghan mujahideen. As an Indonesian counter-terrorism official put it, “We have experience [of those who committed terrorist acts in Indonesia] after going to Afghanistan and the Philippines and we don’t want ISIS alumni to do the same.”1 Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore have all detained people for involvement in ISIS or prevented them from traveling abroad. Jihadists from around the region, including the co-founder of the al-Qaeda affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Abu Bakar Ba’asyir,2 as well as Philippine groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, have pledged bai’at to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) caliphate. There have been a number of children of JI members to join IS, including the sons of Bali bombers Imam Samudra and Mukhlas, while the sons of senior JI members, Mukhliansyah and Abu Jibril, have joined al-Nusra.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia