The West's Multiculturalism Blows Up on the ISIS Battlefield...and Here at Home

The Islamist State's chief propagandist is believed to be a wealthy American. His name is Ahmad Abousamra, he is 32 years old, and he is the son of a Boston doctor. He is young and he is not poor, and he is not ignorant. He is also not unacquainted with western notions of individual freedom. He just rejects them.

He was born and raised in France and his formal education does not have Islamist overtones at all. He attended Xaverian Brothers Catholic high school and Northeastern University, where he made the dean's list.

He is but one of thousands of westerners who are now fighting for ISIS -- including 3,000 Europeans.

The number of Europeans joining Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq has risen to more than 3,000, the EU's anti-terrorism chief has told the BBC.

Gilles de Kerchove also warned that Western air strikes would increase the risk of retaliatory attacks in Europe.

US-led forces have launched more than 200 air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq since August and on Monday began targeting IS in Syria.

The UK parliament is due to vote on possible air strikes in Iraq on Friday.

IS - also known as Isil or Isis - has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months.

Mr de Kerchove said the number of 3,000 included all those who have been to the region, including those who have returned and those who have been killed there.

That's about one-tenth of the total fighting force that the Islamic State is now believed to have in the field -- western-raised Muslims who can freely travel to and from the battlefield, while journalist Stephen Hayes gets tagged on the terrorism watch list.

How did we get here? Let's explore that question on the next page.