The majority of the young “foreign fighters” were converted to Isis’ extreme ideology online and subsequently travelled to Syria and Iraq, Corriere della Sera said.
The vast majority – 80 percent – are from Italian families, while a minority are the second generation of immigrant families.
The men are mostly aged between 18 and 25 and come from northern Italy. Bologna, Turin and Padua were named as some of their home cities, although some foreign fighters have also come from Rome and Naples.
Speaking to the newspaper, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano confirmed that “there are tens of Italian fighters active in Syria.”
“Around ten have already died. We have a list of fighters with Italian nationality,” he said.
Quoting Italian intelligence, Corriere reported that Italian Isis members are used to supply logistical assistance and recruit new fighters in Italy. They are indoctrinated before being transferred to Iraq and Syria, the newspaper said.
According to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), based at King’s College London, there are up to 11,000 foreign fighters in Syria alone.
Between 396 and 1,937 are thought to come from western Europe, with the highest concentration from Belgium.
Up to 296 Belgians are fighting in Syria, 27 per capita, compared to a high estimate of 50 from Italy and 1 per capita. In western Europe, France has the highest number of foreign fighters in Syria – 412 – followed by the UK with up to 366.