Clint Watts of PJ Sage has released part two of his study of the foreign fighter data from Sinjar, Iraq. The CTC at West Point was the initial conduit for the data and they wrote a useful accompanying report. Clint has gone further by recoding the data (all of which he makes freely available on his site). His new look at the numbers led him to some important findings, including:
- Al-Qaeda does little of its own top-down recruitment in Middle Eastern and North African countries.
- The Internet plays a limited role in radicalizing, recruiting, and coordinating young men in many Middle Eastern and North African countries.
- Returning veteran fighters play a crucial role in radicalizing, recruiting, and coordinating young men to fight in foreign countries.
- A handful of cities (what he calls “flashpoint cities”) produce a disproportionate number of foreign fighters.
Based on Clint’s findings in part two of his study, he counsels the following:
- Focus less attention on the Internet in the Middle East and North Africa and more on local social networks, especially in the flashpoint cities.
- Put greater effort into tracking foreign fighters leaving Iraq and Afghanistan.