More Revelations On Islamic State: The Countries Where The Group Finds Support


Since the Paris attack, Islamic State (IS) discussions have dominated the media discourse around the world. This is because, with each passing day, something new is revealed about the group.

Security experts, investigative journalists, and other bodies interested in finding the inner workings of the group, have been working hard to uncover the undercover issues about the group and reveal them to the public.

The latest piece of information that has been uncovered, is that a new study by Brookings Institution, the American think tank that is based in Washington DC, has revealed the list of countries where IS has a support base.

The think tank used Twitter to collate the data. Since the beginning of this year, Brookings Institution has compared the countries where tweets from IS supporters originate. The study dealt with a sample size of 20,000 Twitter users, and found that Saudi Arabia is the top location claimed by Twitter users supporting IS. Syria followed, and Iraq rounded off the top three. According to the data, the United States placed fourth.

As you can see below, the United Kingdom placed tenth, and together with the US, they are the only Western countries who appeared in the list.

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Apart from the support base the militants have on Twitter, it was also revealed that the number of foreigners joining the conflict in Syria and Iraq, has continued to rise in 2015. This data was provided by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSRPV).

However, the data did not track these fighters to Islamic State. The data painted a rough picture of where around the world the militants are successfully recruiting new fighters.

According to the ICSRPV, the number of fighters joining from Saudi Arabia is between 2,000-2,500, the largest total number per capita—that represents 107 fighters per million people. On a per capita basis, Jordan topped the list, with an estimated 315 fighters per million people.

Belgium has the highest number of fighters per capita of any Western nation. Even Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a senior IS operative who is suspected to be the key mastermind behind the Paris attack, was born in Belgium. Abaaoud was killed in a special operation by the French police, days after the attack.

France is also said to have the biggest source of fighters in Europe, contributing 1,200, or 18 per capita. The French government has put the number of fighters closer to 1,600. The US is very low on this list. Only about 100 fighters have come from the US.

The Russian Federal Security Service also estimated that some 1,700 fighters have come from the country, most of whom are thought to be from the Chechnya and the Dagestan region. IS has said an improvised explosive device brought down the Metrojet airliner over Egypt’s Sinai desert last month—a devastating event that killed all 224 passengers on board. Since the incident, Russia has stepped up efforts to combat the militants with airstrikes.

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    • It makes far more sense for the author to do what they have done and covert from Per Capita to Per Million.

      It wouldn’t be wrong, but it would be silly to say that 0.000107 fighters Per Capita are joining the fight from Saudi Arabia. How much use is 0.000107 of a person? That’s maybe a finger nail?

      • it’s normal in medical statistics to quote “rates” as cases per year 100,000 total population for an uncommon disease, or per 1,000 or 100 person years in a really common disease. The heading in a table tells you all. I agree that 107 per 1,000 could mean ore to the average joe that the decimal of .000107 since country populations are thought of in millions the 107 per million would be sensible.

  1. A) Who knows who wrote this web page; and B) whoever wrote it has a weak grasp of compostion — no matter.

    I submit the commentators are exsmining purported facts more than author; again, no matter.

    signed, anonymously yours, Marianne Mueller.

  2. It’s actually very important to understand that it is extraordinarily easy to fake location data and IP information, especially on Twitter. And I’m sure ISIS/DAESH would love to have us think that a lot of their support hails from within the US/UK. Of course, that isn’t to say that no one within the US is supporting DAESH, that’s a bit like saying no one who has ever eaten at Chick-Fil-A supports gay marriage. But I think that number might be *slightly* inflated due to faked data. After all, anyone who vocally supports DAESH online would almost certainly be put on high federal watch, so it seems fairly unlikely that would happen except by the absolute dumbest of insurgents/wannabe troublemakers.

  3. Wouldn’t the Brookings report been more convincing is the numbers were normalized to either twitter use or internet coverage per nation (or some other normalization factor to give them more significance). Also the infographic numbers only add up to 3626, and this is supposed to show the top countries. Are the remaining 16374 really that spread over the globe to not even approach 125 (Tunisia)


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