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Western 'Jihadists' Trekking to Syria, Iraq Pose New Terror Threat

LONDON – When a 13-minute-long recruitment video for one of the largest Islamic terrorist groups

fighting in Syria and Iraq popped up on the Internet two weeks ago, it underscored an alarming fact: nearly 500 Britons – mainly young men – have traveled to the two war-torn countries to fight as jihadists. The video featured two young men from Wales and one from Scotland urging other Western Muslims to join them in the “holy war.” And the U.K. is hardly the only Western country that has seen some of its young Muslim men opting to fight in the Syrian civil war, and the renewed conflict in Iraq. Some 700 French nationals are fighting there as well, as are 800 Russians, 250 Belgians and 270 Germans. Overall, the Soufan Group, a New York intelligence firm, estimates around 2,500 Westerners have joined the battles, including more than 70 Americans. Indeed, says Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King’s College London, these wars have attracted “a larger number of Western jihadis than any previous conflict.”
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