Foreign fighters serve as a barometer for transnational, non-state resistance movements. Terrorist and insurgent groups routinely drawing foreign fighters from abroad demonstrate significant strength when compared to other separatist groups. At a personal level, a recruit must be seriously inspired to leave their home country, join a foreign militant group, and potentially fight to their death. I’ve studied the foreign fighter issue intently at times and considered making foreign fighters my central research focus until…..someone beat me to it, and did it better than me.
This week’s Shout-Out goes to two foreign fighter researchers that have taken the topic to a new level.
The first is Dr. David Malet from Colorado State University. I’d been compiling databases from the Sinjar records and a few other spots and thought, “I should do this for all conflicts and compare them.” Within a month, I realized David was already on it and doing it extremely well. David’s analysis of foreign fighters across conflicts in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Spain and the U.S. should be read by all interested in the topic. He used a thorough research design and primary source materials to draw insightful conclusions. While I’m disappointed he beat to it, I thank him for his efforts. His work is an example of excellent research for all in the political science field to emulate.
Next, Stephanie Kaplan from MIT has expanded the exploration of foreign fighters. Stephanie focuses on the context in which Islamic foreign fighters were recruited and since analyzed. She provides me interesting perspective on foreign fighters within the context of war, and I’ll be sure to link to her forthcoming publication.
For those truly interested in foreign fighters, some of my favorite articles and data can be found on the “Data and Resources” tab above. Additionally, quantitative junkies can find a fully coded set of the Sinjar foreign fighter records here.