With the death toll well past 100,000 after nearly three years of bloodshed, its easy to see why so many young men and women from western countries want to offer their services to overthrow Assad’s regime. Whereas before the dominating group was the Free Syrian Army, now it’s mostly overrun with Islamist terror groups which have close ties with Al-Qaeda. While the groups are fighting against pro Assad fighters, their ultimate agenda is to turn Syria into an Islamist Republic ruled on basis of sharia. This obviously does not sit well with western interests, who would like nothing than the complete opposite of that with democratic ideals.
Hundreds of jihadists, some as young as 16 were traveling from all around the world to eventually make their way into Syria and the conflict. This is dangerous as while they are helping the rebel movement, the groups they are fighting for are Islamist terror groups. Influencing youth with ideals at a very young age can set kids down a path which almost always ends in a possibility of death. UK has proposed introducing legislature to strip returning British jihadists of their citizenship, even if it means leaving them stateless.
Once in Syria, the young fighters receive weapons, clothing, and six weeks of military and religious training before being allowed to fight. With the media, Syrian jihad is broadcast through social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter thereby reaching a much broader audience. As a rebel fighter said, “we have no use for people who come here against their will”. While it’s true rebel groups will not turn away fighters, teens are driven to Syria to fight what they believe is a war against an oppressive regime.
By: Rohan Kohli