The Islamic State has much more appeal for Muslims in the West than al-Qaeda and other jihad terror groups ever had. This is an indication of the power of the idea of the caliphate, and of the fact that many Muslims in the West support the Islamic State despite the condemnations of it from Muslim leaders.
“‘More than 1,000 Franco-Germans’ in Iraq-Syria wars,” Anadolu Agency, September 14, 2014:
More than a thousand people from France and Germany have gone to Iraq andSyria to join groups fighting in the war-ridden countries, according to French and German authorities.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told the French weekly Le Journal de Dimanche on Sunday that nearly 350 of French citizens or residents were now in the restive Mid-east countries, including 60 women.
The minister said that, in total “there are 930 French citizens or residents who have gone to, want to go to, or have returned from the fighting in the two countries”.
He added: “One hundred and eighty of them have returned from Syria, 170 have just left the country and 230 are preparing to leave.”
Meanwhile, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday that German security reports stated the number of people identified as having gone to Syria to fight alongside radical groups like the militant Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) was 378 as of early August.
There are reportedly 140 investigations under way into people involved in the fighting for and supporting radical groups, with 33 of them being conducted by the office of the German Federal Chief Prosecutor.
Two-thirds of people who joined the fighting in Syria were “radicalized” after being affected by online propaganda from radical groups, according to German security sources.
The report added that 40 of the fighters from Germany were women and 16 of them aged under 18.
The French and German reports came ahead of an international conference on peace and security in Iraq due to be held in Paris on Monday to discuss the coordination for support in the fight against the militants led by ISIL.
ISIL has recently taken over large portions of Iraqi and Syrian territory, having subsequently declared the region a “caliphate” – a notion rejected by many Muslim leaders and scholars.
The militant group has targeted Shiite Muslims, Turkmen, Ezidis and Christians and driven 1.2 million people from their homes.