Recent reports in the European press and evidence from social media implicate European jihadists fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in atrocities committed in the vicinity of Aleppo, in northern Syria. The reports, moreover, suggest that European jihadists in Syria are more numerous than official statistics indicate. Indeed, they point to the existence of entire French-speaking and German-speaking brigades in the Aleppo region.
One Abu Shaheed, a French jihadist interviewed by the weekly Paris-Match in March, claims that there are “at least” 500 recruits from France alone fighting with ISIS, which is merely one of the jihadist factions in Syria. It has lately been involved in an internecine conflict with other such factions, including Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's official affiliate in Syria. In a recent study, Thomas Hegghammer, director of terrorism research at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, used published estimates from European intelligence services to put the total number of European recruits fighting in Syria at fewer than 2,000. The study estimated the total number of French recruits fighting with all the factions, not only ISIS, at between 200 and 400.