Fallout: The Future of Foreign Fighters
April 5, 2017
Successive military campaigns and coordinated, international counterterrorism pressure are constricting Islamic State finances and disrupting territorial control. The Islamic State’s legitimacy, derived largely from successfully “governing” and extracting resources from territory, is likely to continue to diminish unless the group adopts new behaviors. The Islamic State’s rapidly shifting fortunes demonstrate to other militant groups that maintaining a state is far more difficult than operating as a decentralized terror organization.
From a U.S. perspective, the most significant potential behavioral shift is the Islamic State’s use of remaining safe havens to operationalize an unprecedented number of foreign fighters. These fighters, along with their new militant bona fides, could establish new affiliates, aggravate existing local socioeconomic grievances, or facilitate attacks in countries where the United States has strategic interests.
A new report by the Transnational Threats (TNT) Project entitled “Foreign Fighter Fallout” covers the future of foreign fighters, who they are, and where they are going. This report is available on the CSIS website at https://www.csis.org/analysis/fallout-future-foreign-fighters.