Myths, Facts, and Mysteries About Foreign Fighters Out of Russia

Those who follow the conflict in Syria are well aware that thousands of citizens and residents of the Russian Federation joined ISIS, al-Nusra, and other violent jihadi groups fighting to overthrow Bashar alAssad's government in Syria. As we discuss in a recent report coauthored by the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program and Transnational Threats Project, people traveled from Russia to Syria by well-trodden paths, supported by an infrastructure populated by fellow Russian speakers. While the existence of this route to conflict is well-known (even as specific numbers of fighters and other travelers are highly disputed), the questions of who these people are, why they chose to go to Syria, and where they're likely to go next are a complicated patchwork of motivations, allegiances, and repercussions that preclude easy solutions. 

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