Canadian Intelligence Eh!

What ‘colour’ are foreign fighters in Ukraine?

The war in Ukraine has led to a new wave of ‘foreign fighters’. Who are these people and what is their agenda?

Episode 170 – Who are the ‘foreign fighters’ flocking to Ukraine?

When we think of the term ‘foreign fighter’ our minds immediately go to those of our citizens who left to fight (and kill) with jihadi groups like ISIS o r Al Qaeda. And yet the phenomenon is much older than most realise. There has been an exodus of people from the West who went to Ukraine – to fight on both sides! Oslo-based researcher Kacper Rekawek walks us through who is who in this lethal zoo.

About my guest

Kacper Rekawek, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX) at the University of Oslo.

He has more than 15 years of experience in counterterrorism and countering violent extremism from academia (including a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast, QUB, and a research fellowship at the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews), think tanks (including the Polish Institute of International Affairs, PISM, local equivalent to the German SWP) and the third sector (GLOBSEC).

Rekawek’s research interest encompass a vast field related to terrorist organisations and networks, and means of countering them. He originally started as a researcher focusing on terrorism in Europe in general, and the Irish Republican Army, IRA, in particular (his PhD at QUB was a comparative study of the factions of the IRA). Since 2011, in his job as a terrorism analyst at PISM, he focused almost exclusively on global jihadism – that was also the focus of his major projects implemented while he was at GLOBSEC between 2016 and 2019. Since 2014 he has also been studying and published on the Western extremist foreign fighters in Ukraine, and from January 2020 he has been conducting research on the pre-war lives of such fighters which was supported by the Counter Extremism Project.

Foreign Fighters in Ukraine: The Brown–Red Cocktail – 1st Edition – (

CEP Webinar: Book Presentation By Kacper Rekawek: “Foreign Fighters in Ukraine. The Brown–Red Cocktail” | Jan. 20, 2023 – YouTube

Canadian Intelligence Eh

In a world of multiple voices and opinions it can be very hard to know where to turn.  One choice is to look to those who actually worked in counter-terrorism in the national security world. In these half-hour podcasts, 30-year Canadian intelligence veteran Phil Gurski is joined by a fascinating array of individuals with something meaningful to say about these issues as they provide insight into what they mean and what we need to do about them.

About Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Distinguished Fellow in National Security at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). He worked as a senior strategic analyst at CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) from 2001-2015, specialising in violent Islamist-inspired homegrown terrorism and radicalisation. He is the author of six books on terrorism, including the forthcoming second edition of The Peaceable Kingdom: A history of terrorism in Canada from Confederation to the present, to be published by Double Dagger in February 2023.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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