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Number of Foreigners Joining ISIS Skyrockets


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(NEW YORK) — In the past nine months, the flow of foreigners traveling to Syria to join ISIS has jumped 70 percent, the United Nations says.

That’s more than 25,000 people, according to the U.N.’s monitoring teams. The new data is a sharp uptick from the U.N.’s last release in November, which estimated roughly 15,000 foreigners had joined in the fighting.

That number includes at least 180 Americans who have tried–some successfully–to fight in Syria.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says this means there are more foreigners on the frontlines, and they hail from over half the of the world’s countries (4,000 are from “Western” countries).

“They are increasingly mobile, adaptable, and brutal,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said of the fighters. “And, the threat increasingly includes people committing attacks where they live after returning home.”

The U.N. report released Friday morning found that the majority of countries studied have very little in place to prevent people from traveling to join up with fighters in Syria.

And increasingly, the travelers aren’t just men, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says.

“Most [fighters] are young males aged between 15 to and 35 motivated by extremist ideologies,” Ki-moon said. “However, we should also address the conditions and factors leading women and girls to join the ranks of Da’esh and other terrorist groups.”

The U.N. and the U.S. Homeland Security department say they are renewing their efforts to stop the flow of people into ISIS, by increasing prosecutions and investigations and stepping up domestic counter-terrorism programs.

The report also highlights the need for more efforts to curb fighters joining from the Middle East and North Africa, areas where the majority of the foreigners are reportedly coming from.

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