A compilation of figures about foreign fighters in Syria & Iraq from all over the world

It is still difficult to find an open source compilation of actual numbers regarding foreign fighters in the Syrian-Iraqi conflict. Therefore, Emmejihad — a Belgium based research blog about jihad — has decided to provide one that will be updated as soon as new figures are brought to our attention. Feel free to send us any kind of relevant information, but always clearly mention your source. We are not responsible for the accuracy of information reproduced here with a link to the original source. But if you think we’ve made an error, please let us know at emmejihad@gmail.com.

LATEST UPDATES:

• Updated official count for Austria to 260 – based on government official quoted in media

• Updated official count for Belgium to 458 – based on government official quoted in media

• Updated unofficial estimate for Belgium to 589 – according to @p_vanostaeyen

• Updated unofficial estimate for Bulgaria to 10 – based on ICCT report

• Added Croatia with 1 known fighter – based on ICCT report

• Updated official count for Estonia to 2 – based on ICCT report

• Updated official count for France to 1,877 – according to @JcBrisard

• Updated official count for Germany to more than 800 – based on ICSR report

• Updated official count for Indonesia to 800 – based on government official quoted in media

• Updated official count for Ireland to 30 – based on ICCT report

• Updated official count for Italy to 87 – based on ICCT report

• Added Latvia with 2 known fighters – based on ICCT report

• Updated official count for Luxembourg to 6 – based on ICCT report

• Updated unofficial estimate for Macedonia to more than 70 – according to @tanjatania

• Updated official count for the Netherlands to 240 – based on security service announcement, thanks to @ajgielen

• Updated unofficial estimate for Poland to 20 à 40 – based on ICCT report

• Updated official count for Slovakia to 6 – based on ICCT report

• Updated official count for Spain to 139 – based on ICCT report

• Updated official count for Switzerland to 59 – based on government website

• Updated official count for the United Kingdom to 700 – based on ICCT report

• Updated official estimate for the United Kingdom to 1,450 – according to @JcBrisard

 

Official sources, publicly stated and/or exact count

Official sources, anonymously stated and/or higher estimate

Unofficial sources higher than official figure

AFGHANISTAN

501

ALBANIA

1482

ALGERIA

2003

2504

ARGENTINA

235

ARMENIA
AUSTRALIA

1826

2507

AUSTRIA

2608

AZERBAIJAN

200-3009

BAHRAIN

1210

BANGLADESH

211

BELGIUM

45812

58913

BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA

34014

BRAZIL

3615

BULGARIA

1016

CANADA

3017

10018

CHAD
CHILE
CHINA

3,00019

COTE D’IVOIRE
CROATIA

120

CZECH REPUBLIC
DENMARK

12521

100-15022

EGYPT

36023

ERITREA
ESTONIA

224

FINLAND

7025

>10026

FRANCE

1,87727

GEORGIA

5028

20029

GERMANY

>80030

1,80031

HUNGARY
INDIA

1032

INDONESIA

80033

IRAN

534

IRELAND

3035

ISRAEL

2036

ITALY

8737

JAMAICA

138

JAPAN

739

JORDAN

2,08940

KAZAKHSTAN

15041

35042

KOSOVO

30043

KUWAIT

7144

KYRGYZSTAN

>1045

10046

LATVIA

247

LEBANON

90048

LIBYA

60049

LUXEMBOURG

650

MACEDONIA

7051

MADAGASCAR

152

MALAYSIA

6053

>10054

MALDIVES

5055

20056

MAURITANIA

257

MEXICO

15058

MOLDOVA

159

MONTENEGRO

3060

MOROCCO

1,50061

NETHERLANDS

24062

35063

NEW ZEALAND

564

665

NIGERIA

>166

NORWAY

40-5067

7068

OMAN

169

PAKISTAN

50070

PALESTINE

11471

PHILIPPINES

20072

POLAND

20-4073

PORTUGAL

1274

QATAR

1575

ROMANIA

276

RUSSIA

1,70077

SAUDI ARABIA

2,50078

>3,00079

SENEGAL
SERBIA

3780

50-7081

SINGAPORE

182

SLOVAKIA

683

SOMALIA

7084

SOUTH AFRICA

385

SOUTH KOREA

786

SPAIN

13987

SUDAN

10088

SWEDEN

30089

SWITZERLAND

5990

TAJIKISTAN

11091

20092

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

5093

TUNISIA

>6,00094

TURKEY

1,30095

2,30796

TURKMENISTAN

36097

UKRAINE

5098

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

1599

UNITED KINGDOM

1,450100

2,000101

UNITED STATES

>300102

UZBEKISTAN

>500103

YEMEN

110104

A few important remarks:

• Most research on foreign fighters in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts is focused on those fighting against the regimes of both countries — and even more specifically the extremist islamic groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS or ISIL). Some figures do include foreign fighters who are active on the other side, though. In general, those fighters tend to be underreported. But it would be wrong to consider all the foreign fighters mentioned here as jihadists who are a threat outside the current conflict. At this point, it seems impossible to split up all countries’ figures for the different affiliations — which of course would be more than interesting. We are keen to get information that will enable a more precise breakdown.

• The list of countries is based on the report ‘Foreign Fighters in Syria’, written by Richard Barrett for The Soufan Group in June, 2014. Countries were added when information appeared in the meantime that they have foreign fighters too — such as Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. For a base set of figures we also relied on the data published by The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), part of the Department of War Studies at King’s College in London. These institutions and their researchers deserve a lot of credit for the work presented here.

• We distinguish three categories of figures, dependent on the source. The first one are official estimates as publicly announced by relevant authorities in the country itself, and in a few cases only the exact numbers mentioned by them. The second category are estimates by relevant authorities that were declared anonymously, or estimates by relevant authorities higher than their exact count. The third one are counts or estimates from unofficial sources, such as academic researchers or the media. We try to omit figures from the active parties in the conflicts — apart from the non-regional members of the so-called coalition against Islamic State — since they risk to be exaggerations.

• Foreign fighters often are legal citizens of more than one country — and even when they only were de facto residents, their countries of departure may include them in their count. Inevitably, that will lead to a certain amount of double counting. On the other hand, there are fighters who identify themselves by a certain ethnic background, even when they never lived in the country of their ancestors. That can distort the figures too. If possible, things like these are taken into account. For example, we decided to omit the single fighter formerly mentioned as a Cambodian — and thus that country as a whole — after hearing from a credible source that the fighter who identified himself as such, actually is an Australian. He may be of mixed Cambodian-Indian-Fijian descent, but apparently not the slightest physical link with Cambodia is proven.

Sources:

1http://icsr.info/2015/01/foreign-fighter-total-syriairaq-now-exceeds-20000-surpasses-afghanistan-conflict-1980s/

77http://rt.com/news/272299-russia-jihadists-syria-iraq/ – total figure of 2,200 minus 500 Russian-born people living in Europe

85South African fighter ‘Abu Daghfal Zakariyya’, as stated on his social media account; http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-02-22-exclusive-is-this-the-first-south-african-fighting-for-the-isis#.VOuhbmR5OFw