With the reported death over the weekend of another American member of the terror group ISIS and new reports of U.S. citizens taking up arms with Kurdish forces, it seems that the allegiances of the 100-plus Americans who security officials believe have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq are as diverse and complex as the conflict itself.
Far from a two-sided affair, numerous groups are vying for power and territory in Syria and Iraq, including the countries’ respective governments, an official al Qaeda affiliate, a powerful al Qaeda splinter group, “moderate” opposition forces, Kurdish forces and a myriad of militias everywhere in between.
As for the Americans joining up -- who are doing so in far smaller numbers than some European governments believe their own citizens are -- former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen said in July, “There’s no real pattern to the people who have gone from the United States to Syria. Some are ethnic Syrians, many are not. They come from all different parts of the country.”