New research by the Soufan Center, an American analytics company, says Russia now contributes the highest number of foreign fighters to ISIS.
According to the group’s study, there were 3,417 Russian citizens fighting with the terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq, as of October 2017. Foreign fighters from Saudi Arabia, second on the list, numbered 3,244. Jordan took third place with 3,000 ISIS combatants.
Soufan Center researchers also found that 400 Russian citizens who fought with ISIS have returned to Russia (760 have returned home to Saudi Arabia and 250 have gone back to Jordan).
These numbers are roughly similar to figures cited by Vladimir Putin in February, when the president said about 4,000 Russians were fighting with ISIS. In March 2016, Russia’s Interior Ministry said that almost 3,500 Russians were fighting with ISIS.
According to the Soufan Center’s last report, issued in December 2015, the leading contributor of foreign fighters to ISIS was Tunisia (with 6,000 combatants in Syria and Iraq). Russia occupied third place at the time, with 4,700 citizens fighting with ISIS.
The Soufan Center was founded in 2005 by former FBI agent Ali Soufan. The company carries out research for international and state organizations.