Foreign Fighters: How Are They Being Recruited?

Foreign Fighters: How Are They Being Recruited?

Two Imperfect Recruitment Models

by Clinton Watts, Small Wars Journal

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Currently, debate focuses on two models of foreign fighter recruitment and transit to theaters of open conflict. The first model is one of top-down recruitment where al-Qa'ida recruits young men and coordinates their travel to an operational theater. The second model suggests the opposite where young men recruit themselves and find their way to open theaters of conflict joining a global Jihadi movement inspired but not necessarily led by al-Qa'ida.

Both models assign a role to the Internet in this process. The first model (top-down) holds that militant propaganda on the Internet makes young men susceptible to recruiters. The second model (bottom-up) holds that the Internet not only radicalizes young men, but also helps them find a way to travel to open theaters of conflict.

Download interim version of article as PDF

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