Rift grows in Islamic State between foreign and local fighters

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Foreign fighters, long welcomed by Islamic State as essential parts of its global mission, are generating greater internal discord—and even violence—just as the group pivots outward to target Europe and the U.S.

At least two of the men who carried out this week’s terror bombings in Brussels, as well as the ringleader behind the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, are believed to have traveled recently to the Middle East before returning to Europe to launch attacks.

If the Brussels attacks demonstrated the role such fighters are playing in Islamic State’s expansion, anecdotes from about half a dozen people who live under Islamic State control and people who study the group suggest it continues to have problems integrating them.

Throughout Islamic State-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria, tempers are flaring, showing how recent battlefield setbacks in Iraq and Syria can exacerbate latent strains within the group as it contends with financial hardships and loss of territory.

“With time, and because of the financial and management differences between them, the locals started to complain” about the foreign fighters, said one Mosul resident. “We all hope to see the day when this division among the fighters ends them.”

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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View more information: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/rift-grows-in-islamic-state-between-foreign-and-local-fighters-2016-03-26

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