Lecturer: Casey Carr
This Lecture analyzed the organizational structures and profile of Belgian foreign fighter contingents in insurgent groups in Syria from 2012 to 2015 and the few of their number who returned to carry out attacks from January 2015 in Paris to March 2016 in Brussels.
Applying Paul Staniland’s social-institutional theory , supported by a brief social network analysis, it specifically frames the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen in vertical, horizontal, integrated, or fragmented organizational structures. In order to do so, this thesis traces the history of the prewar social bases of Islamist confrontational activism cultivated in Belgium prior to the Arab Spring and subsequent Syrian civil war in 2011, supporting the claim that the Islamic State, as well as the numerous al-Qaeda affiliates fighting throughout Syria, are revolutionary.
Competition is a key factor to their success on the ground, and even more so, schisms, such as the IS and al-Qaeda split in April 2013, between local and foreign fighters actually contributes to global jihadi strategy. Finally, moving away from the limitations of social-institutional theory, this analysis proposes an accelerationist framework to understand the expanding horizontalism of Islamist militancy.