Subculture: The third wave of European jihad


  • Dr. Daniela Pisoiu Dr. Daniela Pisoiu is a researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Conflict Studies (IFSH) at the University of Hamburg and currently writing a book on subculture and radicalization. This Op-ed is based on her field research in the area of right-wing extremism and Jihadism.


Foreign Fighters, Subculture, Islamism, European Jihad


 The number one concern on the agenda for most European intelligence services has been, for the last couple of years, the issue of the so-called ‘foreign fighters’: individuals travelling from Europe to Syria in order to take part in the holy war – mostly filling the ranks of IS (Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS – Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and Jabhat al-Nusra (The Support Front, an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria). Evidently, the worry of the intelligence services is not so much the fact that these individuals leave, but rather that they might come back, and in particular what they might do when they return. Historically, foreign fighters have not been deemed a potential danger to their country of origin. If at all, their stories would rather be placed in the context of romantic narratives of idealism and sacrifice for the right cause – be it the anti-fascist fight in Spain, or the establishment of the state of Israel. The experiences of Europeans taking part in the Yugoslavian war, be it on the side of the Serbian, Bosnian or Croat military forces almost passed unnoticed and certainly did not unleash the kind of panic ‘Syrian’ fighters currently do.