ISIS Recruits Kurdish Youths, Adding to Uncertainty in Iraq’s North

Already Fearing Arab Refugees, Kurdish Distrust Grows

As it has expanded its territory and moved closer to secession, Iraqi Kurdistan has expressed growing concerns about the Arab refugees flocking to their borders to escape the ISIS invasion, saying they believe some are sleeper cells of ISIS trying to infiltrate.

The threat of ISIS to Kurdistan is potentially more internal than that, however, as ISIS has been recruiting Kurdish youths directly, and officials say at least 150 Kurds have already joined them in recent months.

Though inside Iraq ISIS has been perceived as mostly a Sunni Arab group, the organization as a whole is a religious and not ethnic movement, and has had good success in recruiting non-Arabs from across the world.

That could be a big problem for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is seeking to be more insular as it moves toward secession from Iraq, but may find its independent Kurdistan bordering not only what remains of Shi’ite Iraq, but an ISIS caliphate that is openly recruiting Kurds to their side.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of