Iraq and Syria are ‘finishing schools’ for foreign extremists, says UN report

The Associated Press reports: Iraq and Syria have become “international finishing schools” for extremists according to a UN report which says the number of foreign fighters joining terrorist groups has spiked to more than 25,000 from more than 100 countries.

The panel of experts monitoring UN sanctions against al-Qaida estimates the number of overseas terrorist fighters worldwide increased by 71% between mid-2014 and March 2015.

It said the scale of the problem had increased over the past three years and the flow of foreign fighters was “higher than it has ever been historically”.

The overall number of foreign terrorist fighters has “risen sharply from a few thousand … a decade ago to more than 25,000 today,” the panel said in its report to the UN security council, which was obtained by Associated Press.

The report said just two countries had drawn more than 20,000 foreign fighters: Syria and Iraq. They went to fight primarily for the Islamic State group but also the al-Nusra Front.

Looking ahead, the panel said the thousands of foreign fighters who travelled to Syria and Iraq were living and working in “a veritable ‘international finishing school’ for extremists”, as was the case in Afghanistan in the 1990s. [Continue reading…]

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