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Jumping Ship: Norwegian Jihadists Abandon Syria Amid Bombings of Daesh Capital

© AFP 2022 / MEZAR MATARRebel fighters prepare to launch homemade mortar rounds at Syrian army forces on in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.
Rebel fighters prepare to launch homemade mortar rounds at Syrian army forces on in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. - Sputnik International
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Incessant bombings of the Daesh capital Raqqa have dulled terrorists' optimism about the future of the so-called Islamist Caliphate. Today, Daesh's European recruits are packing their bags, as the situation is rapidly deteriorating.

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Over the past year, Daesh's self-proclaimed capital Raqqa has been exposed to almost non-stop bombings by Russian, American, British and French areal forces. The increasingly bleak future has made European jihadists, fighting in the Middle East for Daesh's cause, homesick. Today, some of the 40 Norwegian Daesh supporters in Syria are striving to return to Norway in order to flee "Raqqa's hell," Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported, citing internal reports.

Of late, many Norwegian citizens or holders of residence permits in Norway have communicated with both family members and people in Norway's Islamic community, sharing their opinion of Daesh's bleak future.

"In particular, Saudi, Tunisian and Libyan fighters have already escaped. Several of them went into it for the money, not so much for ideological reasons. Now they are fleeing, as the risk is too high," a source told Dagbladet.

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Many of the 150 Norwegians who have joined Daesh are huddled together in Raqqa, Dagbladet reported, citing confirmations from Daesh-related Norwegian sources in Syria. Additionally, more female Daesh sympathizers from the Oslo area live in Raqqa too as "Daesh wives." Many of them are believed to be scared to death and ready to flee back to Norway.

"Many of the European converts are so brainwashed that they are willing to be left to die. Also, many of them got married and had children in Syria. However, many of the Norwegian ‘Daesh warriors' are disillusioned with the situation in Syria now," another source told Dagbladet.

Senior adviser Martin Bernsen of the Norwegian Police Security Service refused to give out exact numbers for security reasons.

"The situation is rather complex. Some of those who have Norwegian ties probably do not plan on ever coming back. Others have enough desire to get away from Syria," Bernsen told Dagbladet.

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Today, Daesh terrorists are being attacked from several quarters: the ever-stronger alliance between Russia and Bashar Assad, the US-led coalition, sporting France, Britain and several other heavyweights, the Kurdish forces, and lastly other Syrian rebel groups. According to Dagbladet, Daesh-affiliated Norwegians are most afraid of being captured by the Kurdish forces or the Shia militia for their brutality, Dagbladet reported.

According to the head of the Norwegian Intelligence Service, Kjell Grandhagen, some of the 150 Norwegians in Daesh have been promoted to middle-management functions, citing the notorious example of Bastian Vasquez, a Norwegian of Chilean origin who was reportedly killed last year.

Last week, Islamist Ubaydullah Hussain became the first person in Norway to be officially charged with recruiting terrorists. The 31-year-old is believed to have advised would-be terrorists, purchased equipment on their behalf and distributed contact information for members of Daesh.

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Earlier in September, a report from the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) found that nearly every fifth radicalized Muslim was a convert to the religion. Additionally, 73 percent of Norwegian Islamists were radicalized after the conflict in Syria broke out.

"We can see that ethnic Norwegian converts are over-represented and when we look at the profile of these people, we see the same vulnerability factors. Poor labor market attachment, poor school achievement and a low rate of high school completion, substance abuse and criminality have obviously made these people vulnerable to radicalization," PST chief Benedicte Bjørnland said.

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