According to a recent report by Fox News, the majority of foreign fighters killed in Syria between July 2012 and May 2013 were fighting with terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
A lead investigator on the project, Aaron Zelin told Fox News the emergence of foreign fighters is yet another sign that the Syrian conflict is spreading, with ramifications beyond the Middle East and North Africa.
"The current conflict in Syria is in many respects similar to what we saw in Afghanistan in the 1980s,” he said.
“Because not only is it viewed as a cause celebre for people within the Arab world, but even western governments are backing the opposition, so you see many westerners, especially from western Europe, going in."
According to Zelin, with estimates ranging from 500 to 800 Europeans now involved in fighting in Syria, the threat continues once these "foreign fighters return home," because they are now steeped in the Islamist ideology, and with new skills such as bomb-making.
In April, Belgian authorities conducted a nation-wide sweep, arresting six men for an alleged jihadist recruitment drive for the Syrian opposition.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer