17:39 Apr. 1, 2016
Belgium is a hotbed of radicalism, according to the research
French, Germans and Britons make up the highest number of foreign fighters in the Syrian rebel ranks from European countries, but Belgium is the largest contributor in proportion to its population, a Dutch study shows.
Europeans fighting alongside Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq have been high on the agenda of European security concerns for several years. Returned volunteers have been involved in attacks in Paris and Brussels over the past 18 months, including last month's bomb blasts in the Belgian capital.
The study, prepared by the Hague-based International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, said European Union countries should not be complacent about their citizens leaving to fight in the Middle East, even those that have seen little such movement.
"Many terrorist organizations aim to undermine tolerant and pluriform, rule-of-law based societies... Recognition of this risk and proper policies to counter it seem to be lacking," the researchers wrote.
In total, up to 4,294 Europeans had gone to fight in Syria, of whom 30 percent had since returned and 14 percent were confirmed dead.