afp.com/ UN warns of ‘unprecedented’ number of foreign jihadists

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SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)

Foreign jihadists from more than 80 countries have flocked to fight in Iraq and Syria on an “unprecedented scale”, according to extracts of a UN report published by Britain’s Guardian newspaper today.

Around 15,000 people have travelled to fight alongside Islamic State (IS) and other hardcore militant groups from “countries that have not previously faced challenges relating to Al Qaeda”, said the report.

The number of foreign jihadists travelling to fight since 2010 exceeds the cumulative total of the 20 preceding years “many times”, the Security Council study said.

“There are instances of foreign terrorist fighters from France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland operating together,” it said, according to the Guardian.

Britain’s top police officer, Bernard Hogan-Howe, estimated last week that five people a week were leaving the country to fight with IS. Security officials estimate that there are currently around 500 British nationals fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Dozens have been arrested for preparing to leave to join the IS group or helping others to do so.

France is also moving closer to adopting an “anti-terrorism” law which would slap a travel ban on anyone suspected of planning to wage jihad.

The UN warned that more nations than ever face the problem of dealing with fighters returning from the battle zone.

The US Central Intelligence Agency last month announced figures showing that there were around 20,000 to 31,500 IS fighters active in Iraq and Syria, much higher than previous estimates.

A US security official estimated that there were close to 2,000 westerners among the 15,000 foreign fighters.

Previous figures showed there were 7,000 foreign jihadists fighting in March and 12,000 in July suggesting 1,000 a month were travelling to fight, despite the launch of US air strikes three months ago, although there is a lag of a few weeks in the figures.

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