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Saturday 20 September 2014

Ireland tops list of jihadi fighters in foreign wars

Published 05/09/2014 | 02:30

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More than 11,000 people have gone to Syria to fight
More than 11,000 people have gone to Syria to fight

Ireland is proportionately in the top two countries supplying jihadi fighters to war zones in Syria and Iraq.

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Along with Finland, Ireland is providing almost one per 1,400 Muslims living in the country.

New research carried out in 25 countries that have given official estimates of how many have travelled to fight in the war zones puts the number of Irish based foreign fighters at 25 to 30 out of a Muslim community here of 43,000.

This works out at 0.07pc of the Muslim community, which is a tiny minority but per capita puts Ireland at the top of the supply table, on the same mark as Finland and marginally ahead of Australia in third place.

The research, put together on behalf of CNN, indicates that more than 11,000 people have travelled from abroad to fight in Syria, although some have gone back again.

It suggests they ally themselves with different factions and sometimes change loyalties as groups merge, disband or change allegiances.

Read more: We will destroy you, Obama vows to 'barbaric' rebels of Islamic State

It points that countries with bigger Muslim populations naturally tend to send the largest number of fighters.

But some countries with relatively small Muslim populations have sent a disproportionately high level of jihadis.

The research confirms the information supplied to the government here by the Middle Eastern desk of the Garda Special Branch and military intelligence that up to 30 jihadis have been using Ireland as a base for regular trips to the conflict zones.

The Irish Independent disclosed that they faced losing citizenship of this country on their return here and that a joint jihadi watch list on suspected foreign fighters is being operated by the Irish and British authorities to prevent terrorists slipping into either jurisdiction through a back-door route.

The new research shows that Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population but only tiny numbers of fighters travelling to Syria.

It also notes that even countries closer to the conflict, such as Turkey, Algeria and Morocco have also sent relatively few.

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Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, which all have more Muslims than any country other than Indonesia, have not issued official estimates of how many of their citizens have gone to Syria.

Britain and France are supplying around one fighter per 6,000 Muslims living in their countries while the US total is closer to one in 25,000.

But in terms of numbers Tunisia is topping the list at around 3,000 fighters, followed by Saudi Arabia and Morocco, on 2,500 and 1,500, respectively. The smallest number, one known fighter, is supplied by Singapore, followed by Kyrgyzstan and Switzerland with ten each.

Irish Independent

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