The researchers from the ICSR who produced the dataset and analysis, Dr Joana Cook and PhD candidate Gina Vale, recorded 41,490 citizens from 80 countries as foreign affiliates to IS between 2013 and 2018. Of the total, 13 per cent were women and 12 per cent were minors. 70 per cent of the foreign IS affiliates from Eastern Asia were found to be women and minors whilst women and minors also accounted for almost half of those who travelled from Eastern and Western Europe. Overall, women were from very diverse backgrounds with diverse motivations. At least 730 minors were also recorded as born to foreign parents, 566 from Western Europe alone, though this is estimated to be much higher.
Along with the unique analysis of gender and age amongst IS foreign affiliates, the report is the first to map out in detail the diverse trajectories of IS foreign affiliates after the fall of the ‘caliphate’ (the land held and administered by IS) at the end of 2017.
The analysis reveals that up to 20 per cent of IS foreign affiliates, 7,366 people, have either returned to their home countries or are in the process of repatriation to do so. Four per cent of these are recorded as women, whilst 17 per cent of those returning (or in the process of returning) are recorded as minors. However, significant discrepancies in accounting for foreign citizens in Iraq and Syria means it is difficult to assess the true numbers in each group.