07 November 2014
Some individuals (mainly from Europe and the United States) have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight the IS (Islamic State) and other jihadist forces. What motivates them? What are the possible scenarios of more such foreign fighters taking up arms against IS?
Recent media reports on the journey by three members of the Dutch biker gang “No Surrender” to support Kurdish fighters against Islamic State (IS) point to an under-explored phenomenon – foreign fighters taking up arms against IS. Understanding this development may throw some light on how the conflict in Syria and Iraq might unfold.
The members of the Dutch biker gang are reportedly former members of the military. What precisely motivated them other than sympathy for the Kurds, is unknown. There are some suggestions that the biker gang’s involvement had been purely to support the distribution of aid – until IS’ recent gains and atrocities against minorities such as the Yezedis and Christians made them take up arms. “You can’t stay sitting on your couch,” said one of the gang when interviewed by the media.
…Shashi Jayakumar is Senior Fellow and Deputy Head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.
CENS / Online
Last updated on 08/04/2016