Motivations for Islamic State’s Foreign Fighters Defy COIN Logic

Motivations for Islamic State’s Foreign Fighters Defy COIN Logic
Islamic State militants pass by a convoy, Tel Abyad, northeast Syria, May 4, 2015 (Militant website via AP).

It’s not hard to understand what motivates local Iraqis and Syrians to fight for the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS). Most believe they are defending their community, Sunni Arabs, against repression from the Alawite-dominated Syrian dictatorship or the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. But the motives of the estimated 20,000 foreign fighters that have joined IS are more complex, tied to deep psychological factors that make them less amenable to political solutions and more difficult to address. Every insurgent movement includes people with diverse motives. Yet the counterinsurgency doctrine of the United States and its NATO partners gravitates to political and economic grievances, […]

Keep reading for free right now!

Enter your email to get instant access to the rest of this article, get five free articles every 30 days, and to receive our free email newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Become a member now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Weekly in-depth reports, including features on important countries and issues.
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you — right now for just $1 for the first 30 days.

More World Politics Review