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Will Former ISIS Fighters Help the Rohingya?

Why Calls for a New Jihad Are Falling on Deaf Ears

A Rohingya refugee in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 2017. Cathal McNaughton / Reuters

Never wanting to miss an opportunity, al Qaeda has used the occasion of renewed violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to release an unofficial call to arms: “The savage treatment meted out to our Muslim brothers in Arakan by the government of Myanmar under the guise of ‘fighting rebels’,” the statement went, “shall not pass without punishment, and the government of Myanmar shall be made to taste what our Muslim brothers have tasted in Arakan, with the permission of Allah.” The question is who is going to answer that call. Of particular interest to the international community will be the foreign fighters who used to belong to the Islamic State (ISIS) and could now be headed to fight on a new front. 

Who are the ex-ISIS fighters, and why might they head to Myanmar? Some fighters initially joined ISIS to defend Syrian civilians from Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

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