The reasons behind the armed engagement
Why some “people” go to Daesh to participate in the fight? What is their background? Can it be possible for them to go back to their original country?
Today, European leaders are worried about the three thousand citizens who left Europe to go to Syria or Iraq to join Daesh. Why? Because some of them can come back to Europe in the future. When they return, their level of tolerance for others could be low. Some of these guys might use weapons and other explosive arms.  Initiatives like “Focal Point Travelers” by Europol are emerging to prevent departures or returns of people to and from Syria or Iraq who are considered dangerous; deprivation of nationality, stop civil rights, strengthening border controls…
Why do these “fighter” decide to leave their family to join Daesh?
First, ideology. Testimonies of fighters who leave their comfortable lives explain in this narrative that there is a confrontation between two opposing worldviews: the “fake” – represented by the West – and the “true” – defended by the ideology. From Syria, Mourad Fares explains: “In Islam, there is no border or nationalism: the Muslims are one and the same community (…) This is the third and final world war which started. The whole world against Islam. (…). “ Describe a conflict in terms of a global identity threatened locally by a coalition opposing forces thus constitutes a powerful attraction of foreign militants vector. In some defense this dual vision makes a desire to participate in the realization of a real utopia; it takes the form of a social revolution or a new state.
How exactly is this ideology spreading?
Through political parties, organizations, associations: many spaces in which occur and spread an ideological vision of the conflict. Aside from reasons for action, they sometimes provide means to do it: raising money, taking care of the necessary logistics routing of militants, arms or material… With the Internet and new technologies, virtual intermediaries are created: propaganda, social networks…
Secondly, social characteristics. The trajectories of foreign fighters appear necessary to reveal the individual and collective determinants of engagement in violent groups. Among the first characteristics: the youth. The records of 595 “foreign fighters in Iraq” grasped by the American army in the town of Sinjar in October 2007 shows that more than half were under 22. Moreover, French Parliament explains that fighters in Syria are “mainly young people aged from 15 to 30 years”. More difficult is the analysis of socio-professional status.
The statistics suggest that one of the main conditions of the engagement in violent groups is the “biographical availability”. The lack of employment stability and reward, and family life: reasons that facilitate the departure. This availability concerns easily young people and students but can be shared by older people who have lived a job loss, a separation or a death.
Also the commitment to break the daily routine. The lure of the unknown is sometimes combined with a desire of self-evaluation. Those who have a military, technical or medical skills can aspire to inaccessible positions in their home countries. They also seek the opportunity to restore their dignity by going “useful”, even while they are often regarded as surplus to their own society.
The armed group provides an ideal social position and can assure a kind of recognition that devotes a change of name. But what happens when you are there? Usually, the fighters find the situation extremely confusing. Why? Because on the contrary of what leaders pretend, it is not a unified and centralized organization, but rather a grouping of fighting units (katibas) whose recruitment is mostly local. In one of the few field surveys on the Syrian conflict, Romain Huet shows that even some fighters initially affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (ASL) can change their allegiance depending on the evolution of power relations. However, a number of young militants in Syria and Iraq are given menial and monotonous tasks such as; custody of a camp or a checkpoint and acquiring their weapons by themselves.
If the “experts” are valuable recruits, usually treated with respect and are well paid, other foreign volunteers are struggling to fully integrate among the local fighters. Beside their bad military value, they can’t speak – or can speak poorly – the local language, which increases the problems of coordination and risk. So, they are always grouped by languages, to the autonomous brigades, which accentuates their distance with other units. However, they don’t know a lot of things about the area where they go: history, culture or tradition. And the reasons for the war are often different with the local people.
Usually, the reality is different than what they thought at the beginning and most of the time the dream gave way to disillusion and if the volunteers continue the fighting, it is more for pride and solidarity than ideology. Others try to flee. On July 2015, among 1210 people who had traveled from France to Syria and Iraq, 27 percent went back. But in Raqqa, a military police have been put in place to track down deserters.
The people who return always worried police and intelligence services. Question: will these activists extend their business in their home country and threaten the social order? The answer depends on the people and context. But above all measures adopted by the authorities and the way in which their original society can integrate them or reject them. By
 Interview with Gilles de Kerchove in Liberation
 Johann Prod’homme, “Le djihad, lol”, vice.com. URL: https://www.vice.com/fr/read/le-djihad-lol-recruteur-francais-en-syrie
 FISHMAN Brian and FELTER Joseph, Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar records, Combating Terrorism Center, New York, 2007.
 GOULET Nathalie et REICHARDT André, “Rapport sur l’organisation et les réseaux djihadiste en France et en Europe”, Senat, Paris, Avril 2015.
 McADAM Doug, “Recruitment to high risk activism. The case of Freedom Summer”, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 92, n’1, Chicago, 1986.
 HUET Romain, “Quand les ‘malheureux’ deviennent des ‘enrages’: ethnographie de moudjahidines syriens (2012-2014), Cultures et Conflits, n’97, Paris, été 2015.
 BONELLI Laurent, “Des brigadistes aux djihadistes, combattre à l’étranger”, in Le Monde Diplomatique, August 2015, pp. 22 – 23.