For all the hype about Americans joining isis, the majority never saw combat during the Islamic State’s three-year rule. They were largely marginal players in the jihadist caliphate—often working in menial jobs as cooks, mechanics, cleaners, or orderlies. In the end, many became disillusioned and looked for a way out, a new study, “The Travelers: American Jihadists in Syria and Iraq,” reported, on Tuesday.
“For many of the returnees, life in jihadist-held territory did not live up to their expectations,” the report, by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, concludes. “The propaganda, while enthralling, presented an idealized version of reality, meaning that their real-world experience upon arrival was often jarring. Living conditions were much harsher than they saw in the online magazines and videos, and the promises of companionship and camaraderie were rarely fulfilled. Instead, cultural clashes, bitter infighting, and suspicion among recruits and leaders abounded.”