The lure and the reality of joining the Islamic State

The lure and the reality of joining the Islamic State

On 17 February Kadiza Sultana, 16; Shamima Begum, also 16; and Amira Abase, 15 all left the security of their homes in London for the lure of the Islamic State. Philip Ingram asks why?

Their journey through Turkey followed the classic route favored by new IS recruits. But why would such intelligent young people do what to most of us seems so completely illogical? How were they enticed and when they goth there what is likely to happen to them?

SecurityNewsDesk have been give a unique insight from a former Jihadist, Aimen Dean of 5 Dimensions consultants, who worked for British Intelligence for many years. He now openly talks about his experiences in order to educate his audiences on the realities.

The Lure

When Aimen Dean was asked about what lures young girls to IS he explained: “The appeal of the IS can by summed up that they, unlike al-Qaeda, have established a society. Regardless of how brutal and extreme this “society” might appear to people around the world, the IS nonetheless managed successfully to target certain segments of young Muslims with specific appeals.

“Some are drawn to satisfy a desire for revenge, some to seek redemption and atone for their sins and some are drawn to the notion of an Islamic State and the need to serve and protect this fledgling Islamic State in its infancy.

“For the three British teenage girls, (who are high achievers at school), the appeal was even greater when they were promised a larger role in how to serve the IS.”

There is clear evidence that female members of IS are engaged in trying to radicalize and lure other young women to join IS through social media. Global Risk Awareness, a Cyber Intelligence company tracks many of these interactions. James Abernethy a former British Military Intelligence Officer said of Global Risk Awareness capability “The team have seen many interactions between known IS social media accounts and followers based across the globe from Europe, the Americas and elsewhere. It is clear they become online “friends” and the grooming starts from there”.

Dean went on to state: “Over the past two months, the IS has begun to close the female faculties of engineering and humanities in universities under their control, such as Mosul University. The female students in all the closed faculties were given the choice, (if there was ever a choice) to study medicine instead.

The female students, even those who scored lower than required marks, were told that they can now “fulfill” a life dream of becoming a doctor. Those who do not have the ability to become doctors, can study nursing and so become qualified paramedics.”

He suggested, from having studied current recruiting trends and gaining direct inside information that the three young girls were most likely promised to end up being taught medicine and join the legions of female doctors and paramedics much needed on the frontlines where the IS’ fight against an ever growing coalition of enemies was proving more costly.

He went on to say “The lure of learning medicine without having to fill in complex university application forms or the need to score the necessary grades is appealing in itself. But what is more appealing is the sense that they would be serve a perceived “noble cause” through the medical education and then applying that knowledge practically in the frontlines and in urban areas coming under bombardment, with all the thrills of action and adventure involved.

It is a rather false romantic notion of serving alongside young Muslim men committed to the glory and honor of Islam and the resurrection of the Islamic Caliphate. Therefore such young, bright and well-educated Muslim girls are in fact a prize worth attracting as far as the IS is concerned.”

The Reality

Aimen Dean went on to explain the reality in detail, having had experience of similar situations; “While the illusion of glorious Jihadi service, living under a semi-utopian Islamic State and receiving life saving medical knowledge, are all possible motivating factors behind these girls’ journey into the heart of what they think is an Islamic heaven! However the reality is different based on past evidence.

First, as soon they would have crossed the border into Syria they would be placed under the guardianship of an Islamic State judge. This is because they arrived without “Mahram” a next of kin male guardian such as father, brother or husband.

After a four weeks of intensive theological and ideological re-education they would then be married off to some of the Jihadi “brothers” as they are not allowed to be without a “Mahram”.

As usual the IS will break the Sharia rules by marrying these girls off without the presence of their legal guardians and instead the judge appointed by the IS as their guardian will preside over the marriage ceremony.

Once married, they will almost certainly have to go through the anguish of losing their new husbands as a result of the constant fighting and the IS lack of care in protecting their recruits on the frontlines or due to coalition air strikes.

Then they are expected to go through the mourning period of 4 months and 10 days once they lose their new husbands. The mourning period is proscribed in the Quran and will compel them to stay at home throughout this period, as it is an extreme interpretation of Islam by the IS.”

He emphasised that “There would be no access to education and no glorious service, just another form of house arrest.”

Dean explained that the cycle would continue; “Once the mourning period is over the girls must resume the cycle of being married off to other Jihadi brothers, wait until they too are killed and they go through the mourning period again, and if they are pregnant then the mourning period is extended until the child is delivered. They must then marry again as they cannot stay without a “Mahram” (legal guardian).

The gap between the reality and the illusion is wide, but made small and inconsequential by the young age of the girls involved and by the constant barrage of social media messages by those who went before them telling them how good life is within the IS. The tragedy is that even once they realize that they are trapped there is little they can do to escape, and they succumb eventually to the “Stockholm Syndrome”.“

Dean outlined his real concern adding “Without proper media campaign to highlight the (Illusion vs. Reality) equation I fear more teenagers from both sexes will fall victim to the lure of the IS.”

5 Dimension Consultants are based in Dubai and specialise in threat and risk intelligence and Global Risk Awareness are a world leading cyber intelligence company.


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