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NSA Student and Professor Publish on Foreign Fighters

February 23, 2017

A former NSA student, Sean C. Reynolds, and NSA Professor Mohammed Hafez have just published an empirical study entitled “Social Network Analysis of German Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq” in the journal Terrorism and Political Violence. In the article, the authors examine the question why do Westerners become foreign fighters in civil conflicts. They explore this question through original data collection on German foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, and test three sets of hypotheses that revolve around socioeconomic integration, online radicalization, and social network mobilization. The authors find only modest support for the integration deficit hypothesis and meager support for the social media radicalization theory. Instead, the preponderance of evidence suggests that interpersonal ties largely drive the German foreign fighter phenomenon. Recruitment featured clustered mobilization and bloc recruitment within interconnected radical milieus, leading the authors to conclude that peer-to-peer networks are the most important mobilization factor for German foreign fighters.

To read the article, click here.