New America has collected information about 475 individuals from 25 Western countries who have reportedly left their home countries to join ISIL or other Sunni jihadist groups in Syria or Iraq.
According to the report, an unprecedented number of the Western militant recruits are female, young (with an average age of 24), and active in online jihadist circles.
This is quite different from Western militants who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s or Bosnia in the 1990s.
One-third of Western fighters have a familial connection to jihad, whether through relatives currently fighting in Syria or Iraq, marriage, or some other link to jihadists from prior conflicts or terrorist attacks.
The wars in Syria and Iraq have proven deadly for Western militants.
Almost two-fifths of Western fighters in New America’s dataset have been reported as dead in Syria or Iraq. Almost half of the male foreign fighters and six percent of female militants have been killed.
The majority of Western fighters have joined ISIL. Only one-tenth have joined Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, and only 6 percent have joined other smaller groups, the report said.
The most popular route to Syria is through Turkey. Forty-two percent of the Western foreign fighters made their way to Syria or Iraq via Turkey.
The likeliest threat to the US comes from ISIL-inspired violence, the authors warned.
ISIL recruiters have been most successful in Belgium, France, and Britain.
In France, Muslims account for just eight percent of the population and a hefty seventy percent of the country’s jail inmates.
“Moslems are socially deprived, most of them living in ghettos, which explains the high level of criminality among them,” the report warns.
Americans account for a mere six percent of the 4,500 Westerners believed to be fighting alongside Islamist extremists in Syria and Iraq.
The authors of the report explain this low percentage by the Muslims’ better integration into America’s mainstream society.