- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A growing number of jihadists from Western countries are flocking to Syria to help fight President Bashar Assad’s regime, a report in the daily Le Monde revealed.

John R. Schindler, a leading U.S. expert on counterterrorism, analyzed the report, saying, “A detailed new report in the Parisian daily Le Monde, based on sources inside France’s foreign intelligence service, paints a dire portrait of the rising number of Westerners going to wage jihad in Syria.”

The report said jihadists from Western and Caucasus countries have vastly increased the number of entry points into Syria since the summer.

“France is a major source, with the number of French nationals in Syria having doubled just since May, with some 400 in various forms of transit and over 200 actually in Syria as of the beginning of October,” Mr. Schindler reported.

A senior French intelligence official told Le Monde, “Nothing like it has ever been seen before, even for Afghanistan.”

Two transit points have been identified in Europe of jihadists traveling from the Caucasus, especially Chechnya, to Syria.

Vienna, Austria’s capital, has served as a major transit hub for Caucasus jihadists, who work their way from the Central European country to Turkey and into Syria, The Jerusalem Post reported.

According to French intelligence, Chechen Islamists are using Nice, France, where experienced fighters can find refuge among the Chechen community of more than 10,000 in southern France to travel to Turkey and into Syria.

Le Monde reported that jihadists from Australia and Canada — as well as smaller numbers from Italy and Luxembourg — also have left for Syria.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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