The flow of foreign fighters to the ranks of the Islamic State – once a mighty current of thousands of radicalized men and women converging on Syrian and Iraqi battlefields from nations across the globe – has been cut to a trickle this year as the group’s territory has shrunk and its ambitions have withered.
The decline, officials and experts say, has been dramatic, prolonged and geographically widespread, with the number of Europeans, Americans, North Africans and others joining up to fight and die for the idea of a revived Islamic caliphate falling as precipitously as the terrorist group’s fortunes.
From a peak of 2,000 foreign recruits crossing the Turkey-Syria border each month, the Islamic State and other extremist groups operating in Syria are down to as few as 50, according to U.S. intelligence assessments.
Governments from Britain to Tunisia say their citizens are less likely than they have been in years to heed the Islamic State’s calls for front-line volunteers.
Diminished flows deprive the organization of needed reinforcements and further erode its ability to cast itself as the rebirth of a vast Islamic empire. But they also raise questions about whether the terrorism threat is actually easing or just morphing into a more dangerous new phase.
Read More: Chicago Tribune