Small Arms Survey

There and Back. Trajectories of North African Foreign Fighters in Syria

ID: 201512091921

While there are also fighters from Algeria and Egypt, this Issue Brief concentrates on those from Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Recruits are also encouraged to establish a modern identity, dressing in western clothing, even having a pass-port issued with a photo showing them so dressed. Fighters are discouraged from discussing their intentions with family.

Tunisian fighters are still largely recruited traditionally via personal contacts. Recruitment often begins at mosques, many of which were ‘colonized’ by more radical strains of Islam after the fall of the Ben Ali government in 2011.

Returning from Syria to Morocco appears to be more difficult and there is less of a set route. Online sources suggest flying to Libya and travelling overland through Algeria to its mountainous northern border with Morocco. Once there, returning fighters are advised to sneak across the border, along the same paths used by sub-Saharan migrants trying to get to Europe.

Indeed, the Libyan Transitional National Council was among the first ‘governments’ to formally recognize the Syrian opposition as the ‘legitimate (governmental) authority’ in Syria.

Indeed, (...), some foreign fighters in Syria have already said they will go home and wage jihad against their own governments.

read the report of July 2015