Will Racke | Immigration and International Coverage Reporter

There are almost 4 occasions as many Sunni Islamic militants working the world over at the moment as there have been when the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults occurred, in keeping with a research launched Tuesday.

The report from the Middle for Strategic and Worldwide Research (CSIS), a Washington international coverage suppose tank, estimates as much as 230,000 Salafist fighters are unfold out amongst 70 international locations, with the biggest concentrations in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

That determine, whereas down barely from a excessive in 2016, stays at a near-peak degree over the previous 4 many years, in keeping with CSIS. As some extent of comparability, there have been an estimated 80,000 Sunni militants in 2001, when the U.S. launched a worldwide warfare on terror in response to 9/11.

The CSIS research attracts its estimate of worldwide jihadist ranks from a number of authorities and non-governmental databases, together with the State Division’s International Terrorist Organizations Checklist and the Nationwide Consortium for the Examine of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Whereas numbers range by group, all point out that U.S. counterterrorism coverage has didn’t comprise, and in some instances exacerbated, the worldwide unfold of jihadist ideology, in keeping with the authors of the CSIS report.

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CSIS targeted its evaluation on Salafist militants, who observe what they take into account to be a “pure” type of Sunni Islam. Salafist teams are notably harmful as a result of they take into account America and most of its Western allies to be an enemy, and they’re sometimes extra keen than different Islamic teams to kill civilians.

Salafist jihadists are most closely concentrated in international locations the place the U.S. has a major navy presence tied to the post-9/11 warfare on terror, in keeping with the CSIS evaluation. The nation with probably the most Sunni Islamic militants was Syria, with between 43,650 and 70,550, adopted by Afghanistan (27,000 to 64,060), Pakistan (17,900 to 39,540), Iraq (10,000 to 15,000), Nigeria (3,450 to six,900) and Somalia (3,095 to 7,240).

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Most of those fighters fall beneath the umbrella of al-Qaeda, which perpetrated the 9/11 assaults, or the Islamic State, which has risen out of the chaos of the Iraq Struggle to change into the deadliest terror group on the planet. ISIS, regardless of important territorial losses, has seen its ranks swell with associates throughout Africa, the Center East and South Asia. (RELATED: UN: There Are Nonetheless Up To 30,000 ISIS Fighters Scattered Throughout Iraq And Syria)

“This knowledge suggests that there’s nonetheless a just about unprecedented pool of Salafi-jihadist and allied fighters, even with the Islamic State’s decline in territorial management,” the CSIS report acknowledged.

A Syrian rebel-fighter from the National Liberation Front (NLF) gather on the frontline with regime forces inside the demilitarised zone, in the south east of Idlib province on October 9, 2018. OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A Syrian rebel-fighter from the Nationwide Liberation Entrance (NLF) collect on the entrance line with regime forces contained in the demilitarized zone, within the south east of Idlib province on October 9, 2018. OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Photos

The CSIS report provides to a rising physique of proof that Washington’s military-oriented response to jihadist teams is merely addressing a symptom, however not the trigger, of Islamic radicalism. Because the report notes, Salafist-jihadist teams have flourished in international locations with weak governance constructions and sectarian divisions — issues the navy is ill-suited to resolve.

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“An vital — maybe crucial — element of Western coverage ought to be serving to regimes which are going through terrorism
enhance governance and deal extra successfully with financial, sectarian, and different grievances which have been manipulated by Salafi-jihadist teams,” the report concluded. “Policymakers want to raised perceive the particular political and different elements that allowed teams just like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda to ascertain a foothold and to focus U.S. diplomatic and improvement efforts on higher addressing them.”

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