This Brief examines the overlooked role of the women in the organisation, and argues they are every bit as dangerous as their male counterparts. But how should European security forces address this issue?
Roughly 5,000 EU citizens currently live in the territory controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – a figure which is constantly in flux due to individuals joining, leaving or dying. This cohort makes up 25% of the organisation’s non-Syrian and non-Iraqi contingent now known as ‘foreign fighters’, and around 12.5% of ISIL’s total adherents.
Europe is not the main source of volunteers (Tunisia and Saudi Arabia together have more) and Europeans are not known to hold high-ranking positions in ISIL’s hierarchy. However, the jihadist group continues to attract a steady stream of people from across the continent who, regardless of their country of origin, often share a number of characteristics.