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    Militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) celebrate the group's declaration of an Islamic state, in Fallujah, (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. (File)

    US Invasion of Middle East Led to ISIL's Rapid Growth, Claims Professor

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    Western intervention in Islamic and Arabic states was the catalyst to the rapid radicalization of large numbers of citizens and ultimately resulted in the emergence and explosive growth of ISIL, a Lebanese-American Scholar told Radio Sputnik.

    The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 radicalized the country’s citizens, making them sympathetic to various radical groups, eventually leading to the emergence of ISIL, Dr. Edmund Ghareeb, Adjunct Professor of Middle East history and politics in the School of International Service at the American University said.

    Once the country descended into chaos after the Western invasion, the number of angry and frustrated Iraqis willing to rise up and fight against the intruders began to gradually increase. Multitudes of people, including those from abroad, have joined various radical groups and Islamist factions such as al-Qaeda, which were transforming and taking new forms over the course of time. And that’s how ISIL was born, according to scholar.

    This is so called ‘blow back effect,’ Ghareeb pointed out, which demonstrated Islamic people’s overreaction in the hostile environment.

    “[T]hose mainstream or radical [Muslims are now] thinking that there is in fact a crusade against Muslims and against Islam. And this is a way for them to fight against it.”

    And this understanding pushed more and more people from around the world to join ISIL, including those from Western states like France, Germany and the UK, as well as from Central Asian states, North Africa, China and Russia, Ghareeb said.

    Excluding purely religious motivation, there is a combination of factors that cause people make a decision to join up with the Jihadists, scholar outlined.

    One of them is that ISIL has an advanced recruiting system. Foreigners are being recruited either directly or indirectly by groups or organizations affiliated with militants. They usually help foreigners financially; transporting them to where the battles are taking place.

    Moreover, ISIL uses various media to attract more people.

    “[T]hey [ISIL recruiters] are using the internet, social media, they have some very sophisticated publications.”

    According to official data, there are between 25,000 to 30,000 foreigners fighting for ISIL. So far, the increasing number of foreign ISIL militants is raising concerns among state governments globally, as there is the possibility that once these people return to their homelands, they will promote radical ideas.

    “The number [of foreign troops] may be even larger than 25,000 fighters and that’s an enormous number of people who are willing to fight and to die for what they believe,” the scholar concluded.

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    Middle East, Daesh, radicals, al Qaeda
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