Foreign Fighters in Syria: A Militant Leadership Monitor Special Report

In this Quarterly Special Report (QSR), we focus on the foreign fighters who have flocked to the Syrian conflict from around the world. From the Caucasus to the Black Sea to Indonesia, the Syrianconflict has attracted militants from various corners of the globe to fight against Bashar al-Assad’sregime. The QSR begins with a brief survey of foreign fighters in Syria by Nicholas Heras. Theprofiles of foreign fighters start with a portrait of the Georgia-born Chechen Omar al-Shishani, ofthe Islamic State, written by Sirwan Kajjo. Jacob Zenn then explores the little known connectionbetween militants in Indonesia and Syria. The QSR continues with an updated profile of Abu Bakral-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, and its Jordanian ideologue Sami al-Aridi is profiled byMurad Batal al-Shishani. Mairbek Vatchagaev provides a unique look at the Crimean fighter Abdul-Karim Krymsky. Murad Batal al-Shishani then offers an overview of Syrian rebels originally fromthe Russian North Caucasus. Nicholas Heras covers a Lebanese al-Qaeda commander, OsamaAmin al-Shihabi. Leyla Aslanova then provides an independent assessment about the emergence ofAzerbaijani fighters in Syria as reflected in a new documentary film. Finally, a timeline of milestones in the Syrian civil war is provided for context.