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VOL. IX, Issue 5

Lost Souls Searching for Answers. Belgian and Dutch Converts Joining the Islamic State

Since the start of the Syrian conflict much has been written about Western foreign fighters who travel to the country to join Islamic State. In much of the literature it is asserted that a fair percentage of these foreign fighters are converts to Islam. Yet, we know very little about who these people are. In this Research Note, the image of converts who have joined the Islamic State as portrayed in the media is first examined. Subsequently, based on ethnographic research, an attempt is made to provide deeper insight into the family background of seventeen Belgian and Dutch converts. While this is a small sample, it can nevertheless contribute to a better understanding what makes young converts join the armed struggle in Syria in the name of Allah.

About ICCT

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…