ISIS Has Almost No Popular Support in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon -Washington Institute


Recent polling data shows some interesting patterns:
“ISIS has almost no popular support in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Lebanon — even among Sunnis. Among Egyptians, a mere 3 percent express a favorable opinion of ISIS. In Saudi Arabia, the figure is slightly higher: 5 percent rate ISIS positively. In Lebanon, not a single Christian, Shiite, or Druze respondent viewed ISIS favorably; and even among Lebanon’s Sunnis, that figure is almost equally low at 1 percent.”

However, when questioned abut other groups or governments, there was a strong relationship between identity and attitudes. In Lebanon, “Hezbollah, as expected, is rated favorably by 92 percent of Shiites. Among Christians, that figure drops dramatically, yet still hovers near 40 percent. But among Lebanon’s Sunnis, a mere 8 percent have a positive view of Hezbollah.” and “Among the country’s Shiites, both the Iranian and even the Syrian governments enjoy a 96-97 percent approval rating. Conversely, among Lebanon’s Sunnis, Iran gets just 12 percent favorable reviews and Syria just 14 percent. Interestingly, however, Lebanese Christians fall somewhere in the middle on this measure: over a third (37 percent) give Iran at least a “fairly positive” rating, and nearly half (47 percent) say the same about Syria, where Bashar al-Assad’s regime is sometimes viewed as their protector against ISIS and other Islamic extremists.”

A final point: “shared opposition to ISIS does not mean high ratings for the United States. In Egypt and in Saudi Arabia alike, America now has a dismal 12 percent approval number. In Lebanon, that number doubles to 25 percent, but again along a sharply polarized sectarian gradient: from 39 percent among Christians, to 30 percent among Sunnis or Druze, down to a measly 3 percent approval among the plurality Shiite population”

Foreign fighters flow to Syria -Washington Post


The link below provides a graphic explaining the number and origins of foreign fighters in Syria. The number of Canadians is noted as 70, with 130 more from the US. The numbers, of course, need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Its hard to say what the impact of these fighters will be on their home countries. There has been a lot of concern that they will return home to carry out terrorist attacks. However, the evidence suggests that the threat of ‘blow-back’ is relatively marginal. According to the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, the ratio of returning fighters who plan to attack their home countries is between one in twenty and one in one hundred.

The Brookings Institute also just published a fairly sober analysis of the threat of foreign fighters. See Homeward Bound? Don’t Hype the Threat of Returning Jihadists By: Daniel L. Byman and Jeremy Shapiro

The biggest impact will likely be in the Middle East, where the political systems are fragile and radical networks are already in place ready to integrate returning jihadists. Tunisia, the most successful of the Arab Spring states has also been one of the largest points of origin with 3,000. That is not good in the long run….

This Is What Wannabe Jihadists Order on Amazon Before Leaving for Syria, “Islam for Dummies” -New Republic


This Is What Wannabe Jihadists Order on Amazon Before Leaving for Syria


“In 2008, a classified briefing note on radicalisation, prepared by MI5’s behavioural science unit, was leaked to the Guardian. It revealed that, “far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could … be regarded as religious novices.” The analysts concluded that “a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation,” the newspaper said.”