Later today, U.S. President Barack Obama will introduce a landmark resolution at the UN Security Council in New York addressing the threat of ‘foreign terrorist fighters’.
This resolution aims to galvanise international action to tackle the unprecedented flow of jihadist fighters into Syria and Iraq.
ICSR Director Professor Peter Neumann served as senior advisor to the U.S. Mission and the UN Security Council.
In several hours of briefings with the Security Council, he highlighted:
· The scale and extent of foreign fighter mobilisation, exceeding that of any conflict since the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s;
· Their aims and motivations;
· Travel patterns and networks of influence – online and offline;
· Their negative impact on the conflict – reflected in the disproportionate use of foreigners in suicide bombings, beheadings, and incidents of torture;
· The medium to long term threat, resulting from their acquisition of military skills and the creation of new jihadist networks.
He also emphasised:
· The need for ‘smarter’ domestic legislation with an emphasis on stopping wannabe fighters from travelling;
· More effective sharing of information, reflecting foreign fighters’ often complex travel patterns;
· Preventive programmes (often referred to as ‘countering violent extremism’) that mobilise communities, expose ISIS’ propaganda and promises, and provide opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration.
According to Professor Neumann:
“It is very unusual for an academic expert to be involved in this kind of process, and I am honoured to have played a role. I hope that some of our ideas and recommendations will be reflected in the Resolution. It’s a great example of how rigorous, first class academic research can have real impact .”