07 April 2016
The arrest in March 2016 of a Singapore citizen, Wang Yuandongyi, for attempting to travel to Syria to fight with a Kurdish militia against ISIS raises questions about the psychological processes of individuals attempting to join anti-ISIS groups.Should these individuals be treated in the same manner as those attempting to fight for ISIS?
The arrest of a Singapore citizen, Wang Yuandongyi, in March 2016 for attempting to travel to Syria to fight with a Kurdish militia against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has focussed attention on the phenomenon of individuals attracted to the cause of fighting ISIS – not for it. Analysis by CENS, the Centre of Excellence for National Security at RSIS, of the background, motivations and nationalities of over 200 “lone wolves” who have made the journey to fight ISIS, suggests that about half fight with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) the major Kurdish opposition to ISIS in northern Syria.
A smaller number of the 400-500 actually on the ground fight with the Peshmerga of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq, and an even smaller number have joined Assyrian Christian militia in Syria. At least 12 of the foreign anti-ISIS “lone-wolves” with these groups have been killed. Americans, especially military veterans, make up approximately 50 per cent of the total number of anti-ISIS fighters. Apart from a small number of fighters (particularly from Europe) who are second-generation members of the Kurdish diaspora, very few have a direct connection with the conflict.
… Shashi Jayakumar is Senior Fellow and Head, Centre of Excellence for National Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This appeared earlier in The Straits Times.
CENS / Online
Last updated on 08/04/2016