The Levant News — Nearly 30,000 foreign recruits have now poured into Syria, many to join the Islamic State, a doubling of volunteers in just the past 12 months and stark evidence that an international effort to tighten borders, share intelligence and enforce anti-terrorism laws is not diminishing the ranks of new militant fighters.
Among those who have entered or tried to enter the conflict in Iraq or Syria are more than 250 Americans, up from about 100 a year ago, according to intelligence and law enforcement officials.
President Obama will take stock of the international campaign to counter the ISIS at the United Nations on Tuesday, a public accounting that comes as American intelligence analysts have been preparing a confidential assessment that concludes that nearly 30,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria from more than 100 countries since 2011. A year ago, the same officials estimated that flow to be about 15,000 combatants from 80 countries, mostly to join the Islamic State.
That grim appraisal coincides with the scheduled release on Tuesday of a six-month, bipartisan congressional investigation into terrorist and foreign fighter travel, which concludes that “despite concerted efforts to stem the flow, we have largely failed to stop Americans from traveling overseas to join jihadists.”
Other parts of the Obama administration’s policies on Syria and for combating the Islamic State have suffered significant setbacks, as well.
A $500 million Pentagon effort to train rebel forces to take on the Islamic State in Syria has produced only a handful of fighters. Russia has defied American attempts to block Moscow’s buildup of a new air base with warplanes in Syria — a topic Mr. Obama will discuss with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at the United Nations on Monday. And in a break in continuity for the mission, John R. Allen, the retired four-star general who since September 2014 has served as the diplomatic envoy coordinating the coalition against the Islamic State, has told the White House that he will step down at the end of the year.
The focus on shortcomings in the global effort to combat the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, is playing out as tens of thousands of refugees flee strife in the Middle East and North Africa, including many seeking to escape the violence in Syria and oppression in areas under the control of the Islamic State.
A year ago, Mr. Obama and other top American officials spent a great deal of diplomatic capital rallying support for a legally binding Security Council resolution that would compel all 193 United Nations member states to take steps to “prevent and suppress” the flow of their citizens into the arms of groups that each country considers to be a terrorist organization.
Source: The New York Times