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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Islamic State Expands: Up to 100,000 People Have Joined, Experts Say

    


The Islamic State, the radical group which has cut a bloody path through Syria and Iraq in recent months, slaying civilians and security forces, and executing the American journalist James Foley on camera, has even more followers than previously believed, according to Iraqi security sources.

While western diplomats and other observers have estimated the number of militants number between 20,000 to 50,000, Hisham al-Hashimi, a security expert in Baghdad, said that the total membership of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria may now be closer to 100,000 members. 

In addition to foot soldiers, the Islamic State has also attracted a number of former high level army officers from Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime, said Hashimi. (Many Baathists fought American troops after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.)
“Most of those who joined — and I know them personally — are either former army officers or their sons,”
“Most of those who joined — and I know them personally — are either former army officers or their sons,” said Salem Aljomaily, a security expert and a former intelligence officer. In terms of how the new recruits are organized, Aljomaily said that “the high ranking officers are the military planners, and their sons and the younger officers are being used as fighters.” 

If true, the numbers suggest that the militant organization is growing by leaps and bounds as it conquers territory in the region.

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