Reports that an estimated 2,000 Europeans have joined jihadists fighting for territory in Syria and Iraq are a reminder that feelings of loyalty are not givens and can be diverted away from one’s place of origin.

The Independent reported Wednesday that the “brutal beheading of US journalist James Foley by a Briton fighting in the ranks of Isis … is the latest — and most shocking — example of British jihadists committing atrocities in Syria and Iraq”:

One reason is the sheer ease with which people can get to Istanbul in Turkey, and then catch a bus to get into neighbouring Syria, according to Charlie Cooper, a researcher at the Quilliam Foundation. Isis wants to “show off” its foreign fighters as part of its propaganda, he added. And the unnamed man who beheaded Mr Foley “will have committed himself entirely to furthering the aims of the Islamic state” and “completely rejected his British nationality”.

The killing of the American journalist was evidence that British jihadis were “some of the most vicious and vociferous fighters” in Syria and Iraq, said Shiraz Maher, a senior researcher at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London. They are “very much at the forefront of this conflict” with roles ranging from suicide bombers to executioners, he added.

Read more and watch clips from an ISIS recruitment video purporting to show fighters who identify as Australian and British nationals here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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