It comes as no shock to us to read headlines about girls, as young as 15, crossing borders alone to join the extremist Islamist rebel group. Let’s also not forget that ISIS easily recruits and trains all kinds of men and women in their respective Islamic states to be a part of them. ISIS is brainwashing kids, teenagers, women and men of all races for recruitment and support.The question is why these people are choosing the direct path to self-destruction and terrorism. What will people gain from being a follower? From being a murderer? From being a human trafficker?
The issue is identity crisis that causes this waiver in people’s minds. Where would one have power and the ability to influence and be a part of this world other than ISIS? They see it as a golden opportunity to let themselves be seen and have some kind of impact in this world: to be noticed and to be a part of something important, either good or bad. ISIS propaganda videos makes radicalization and recruitment easier by telling its viewers that they are needed and wanted. Poulin, a Canadian who joined the fight for ISIS in Syria, mentioned in one of the videos, “We need the engineers, we need doctors, we need professionals. Every person can contribute something to the Islamic State.” It gives meaning to a person’s life to be needed and to be important – a truly sneaky, yet brilliant, psychological tactic.
“There is a role for everybody.” – Abu Muslim on ISIS recruitment.
These six enticing words lure the victims into their trap.
Power and recognition are what these people thirst for. Why? They don’t get enough of it where they are right now. Therefore, these propagandas easily target the unemployed, women, and innocent, young minds. Not to mention that social media plays a huge role in spreading awareness to join ISIS. ISIS videos make it seem like what they do on the field resembles video games like Black Ops – a teenager’s video game dream world come to life.
Women who chose this path tweet on social media to encourage others to follow in their footsteps. These women who are called ‘jihadi brides’ join ISIS to reconcile with their lovers who are fighting for this creation of a pure islamic state, to have children, and to support and fight for ISIS for the same reasons men do.
Why would anyone support ISIS and follow in their footsteps?
Extensive research proves that current conditions in Iraq and Syria with their education systems, lack of economic growth and opportunity, and bad governance pretty much dug its own grave.
The failed education systems in ISIS infested countries by emphasizing rote, devalued learning and accepting authority more than skills and values taught in other education systems. Without the proper education, the children in these countries grow up without knowing what to think for themselves or how to analyze the choices they make and the rules they follow. Due to this reason, the spread of militant ideologies and indoctrinations of the younger generations becomes inevitable.
The lack of economic growth has increased as Arab states have economically liberalized. These states did not take in consideration the existing welfare systems which led to the removal of guaranteers of public employment. This led to unemployment at an all time high. Twenty-nine percent of the Arab youth, and even those with higher education, are currently unemployed too. This combination of weakened welfare and economic opportunity cause the people to turn to others instead; creating the perfect opportunity for foreigners to join in to support them.
Up to this day, Arab governments (not all) treat their citizens as threats to national security, taking brutal precautionary measures to keep their people under the government’s control. This not only drives its people to feel distrust and detached towards their governments, but also to believe in the worst. More than 91% of Arab citizens believe that corruption is not a question in their government, and believe that the law does not treat the citizens equally. By joining hands with ISIS, it’s an opportunity to overthrow this system and rebel for the respect and power they believe they need to gain– and now, the world. This is quite a radical reason because ultimately, ISIS can convince the people that doing what ISIS does it the right thing and is justified for the brutality the people endured under the bad governing.
Altogether, social media, lack of proper education systems, failing economy and bad governance have created this toxic drug that lures people into ISIS. The easiest ways to end recruitment would be to give everyone some sort of magical wakeup call that murder and terrorism are never justified, and violence will only lead to more violence. However, that could never really happen neither could shutting down all forms of social media and taking down every single propaganda ISIS have set out already. Or for these governments to somehow take care of the crisis. None of these simple solutions are realistic, leaving this crisis yet to be resolved.
– Hyun Jung Choi ‘16
Captions: Faith Choi (’16)