Lost Souls Searching for Answers? Belgian and Dutch Converts Joining the Islamic State

Marion van San


Since the start of the Syrian conflict much has been written about Western foreign fighters who travel to the country to join Islamic State. In much of the literature it is asserted that a fair percentage of these foreign fighters are converts to Islam. Yet, we know very little about who these people are. In this Research Note, the image of converts who have joined the Islamic State as portrayed in the media is first examined. Subsequently, based on ethnographic research, an attempt is made to provide deeper insight into the family background of seventeen Belgian and Dutch converts. While this is a small sample, it can nevertheless contribute to a better understanding what makes young converts join the armed struggle in Syria in the name of Allah.

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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