The record number of foreigners who fought in the Syrian civil war and their involvement in terrorist attacks in the West have highlighted the importance of foreign fighters and the need to develop better policies to stop them. In his latest book, “Road Warriors: Foreign Fighters in the Armies of Jihad,” Brookings Senior Fellow Daniel Byman weaves the story of the modern jihadi foreign fighter movement, bringing together past conflicts such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya and current ones such as Iraq, Syria, and Somalia. Byman discusses how and why foreign fighters pose a threat but also how they often foster infighting, alienate local populations, and otherwise hurt the very causes they try to advance. Byman further argues that, left alone, the foreign fighters are dangerous, but that states can effectively stymie their rise and reduce the allure of conflict.
On May 10, Brookings hosted the launch event for “Road Warriors,” featuring a discussion with the author moderated by Peter Bergen, acclaimed journalist and vice president for global studies and fellows at New America. Following the discussion, the participants answered questions from the audience.
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For the past year, you've seen that perhaps no leverage that the US and the West thought it had — aid, sanctions, the freezing of Afghanistan's reserves — has really had an effect on Taliban behavior. The Taliban has essentially done what they had always done. The Afghan people have been in a humanitarian crisis because the Taliban hasn't budged.