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Belgian and French Foreign Fighters in Iraq 2003–2005: A Comparative Case Study


Belgian and French Foreign Fighters in Iraq 2003–2005: A Comparative Case Study

Abstract: 

Efforts to understand the distinction between foreign fighting and domestic terrorist acts have focused for the most part at the macro level. This study investigates if this difference is observed at the network level. The Iraq foreign fighter mobilization, which was significant, both numerically and in terms of its visibility, is used for this analysis. The participation of Belgian and French foreign fighters is examined due to the perceived level of threat they posed in the period 2003–2005 and while absolute numbers are relatively low, these two countries may have provided just under a quarter of the all European foreign fighters in this period. Observations are generated and then compared to research on domestic attack networks in Europe and the United Kingdom. The article finds that the two networks were involved in foreign fighter activity and did not engage in domestic attack activity. Involvement in domestic attacks occurred at a later time via individuals who had left the network, individuals on the periphery of the original foreign fighter network or individuals who unsuccessfully attempted to engage in foreign fighter activity.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Holman, Timothy. 2015. "Belgian and French Foreign Fighters in Iraq 2003–2005: A Comparative Case Study." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 38 (May): 603-621. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1057610X.2015.1038105

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