ISIS Recruitment Continues to Speed Up, 20,000 Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Estimate Continues to Rise, as Does Rate of Recruitment

How big is ISIS? No one really knows, but US officials issue estimates on their foreign contingent on a fairly regular basis, with the latest report poised to show that foreign recruitment continues to increase at an alarming rate.

From 19,000 foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria as of mid-January, officials are now revising the estimate up to well over 20,000, with both the overall number in ISIS and the rate of growth on the rise.

That’s a huge problem, with the war’s continued escalation seemingly making it even easier for ISIS to recruit from abroad, and more than 90 countries now believed to be represented.

This figure intends to cover not just ISIS but other Islamist factions, and they don’t necessarily have a good count on who is going where. It also doesn’t include internal recruitment, and exactly how many Syrians and Iraqis have joined such groups is totally unclear.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of