Daniel Byman’s book is a timely piece on the history and evolution of foreign fighters’ role in jihad. Readers will walk away from this book with a better understanding of the severity of the threat of foreign fighters, as well as how the rise of the Islamic State was possible to begin with. Foreign fighter flow to jihadi conflicts is evidence of the way the modern, globalized world fans conflict beyond its regional nucleus.
There are several bilateral and multilateral agreements among nations to support inter-intra agency coordination and cooperation. There are also global security institutions such as United Nations Counter Terrorism Centre and its sister agencies such as United Nations Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force. However, many of these agencies continue to operate independently. This is apparent in the case of the United Nations Security Council designated Counter Terrorism Directorate and the United Nations Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate that have few operational partners within the European Union and yet to begin meaningful interactions with NATO.
The question that must be faced is this: Can the EU manage its vast resources to maximise its information sharing with partner agencies and tighten its grip around radical Islamic factions returning to Europe? To answer this question and provide an appropriate response to various other underlying questions, we must better understand foreign fighter factions, their agenda, and their operational mechanism.