The Islamic State is recruiting Teens from the Western Nations. They are responsible for the disappearance of literally thousands of teens. Throughout the western world, thousands of parents have come home to empty houses, reported their kids missing, and gone through the horror of learning that their teen had been recruited by the Islamic state. It is all very shocking to most of them, who report that their A+ student, their loving child, their gentle spirited daughter or son, had slipped away, traveled to Syria and joined the Islamic State jihad.
Joining the Islamic State is Different than just being Muslim
It is important to note that there is a difference between Islam and the Islamic State. Muslims can be moderate or extremist, and there are a variety of sects who are variations of the Islamic faith, just as there are denominations in Christianity. Just as Presbyterians do not bomb abortion clinics, so being Muslim doesn’t make someone a potential suicide bomber. People interpret their faith in different ways. It is a difficult concept though for many western people to grasp. How can we know the difference?
How Is The Islamic State Recruiting Teens?
The Islamic State actively recruits teenagers, and young people through social media, online videos, and covertly through Mosques, communities, and schools. Children are instructed not to tell their parents and to simply run away. The pain, terror, and horror for the parents is unimaginable.
Young people adopt new ideas very easily. Under normal circumstances, it helps them to learn and adapt. It takes time to become grounded in a set of beliefs, and young people tend to rebel against whatever they were taught at home, in an attempt to find their own way. They are just learning who they are and starting to explore their spirituality. They can be easily excited by claims of paradise on earth, or devotion to the faith by sacrificing themselves. They can be easily swayed by friends, religious leaders and anyone else that offers them a lot of attention.
Purpose, Identity and Faith
Joan Witt, of The Guardian explains how many teens feel isolated and out of place in the modern world, and this is especially true of children who are brought up with a religion or any unusual set of moral codes. Young Muslims for example, don’t feel comfortable in a western world where they must dress differently and are taught to have different moral values than the majority of the society. Girls especially feel set apart from their Western peers. They can however find new identity within that faith, allowing it to further set them apart from society entirely. They can gain purpose through their religion, and that should be a good thing, unless there is an Islamic State recruiter encouraging them to abandon their families.
Violence and Excitement
In today’s society, western people are isolated from almost every form of violence. Yet teens often feel an attraction toward bloodshed and anger. Video games are the usual release for aggression, but Jihad is also attractive when represented in the right way, by a skillful recruiter. BBC Newsbeat explains a bit about how Islamic State recruiters use the lure of violence, especially to young men.
Armageddon and Paradise
Recruiters use apocalyptic scriptures and prophecies to make teens believe that the end of the world is near and that soon the great Jihad will take place. Also they are taught that the great Caliphate over Islamic State will usher in a period of absolute peace and paradise on earth for all Muslims who live in the Islamic State. They are taught that they should if at all possible return to the Islamic State and fight for their home.
Romance is probably the greatest motivator for young girls. Recruiters promise them that ISIS or Islamic State fighters make great husbands and that they are easily found in Syria, where the battle rages. Recruiters for the Islamic state romanticize the concept of marrying an Islamic State fighter. This is especially effective on Muslim girls who do not have a large community of Muslim boys to choose from. It also works well on preteen girls, who are too young to date in Western society, but it can work on virtually any teen girl. A few photos of an attractive young man, or some compelling words about the ISIS fighters and many girls would be packing their bags.
Which Teens Are Islamic State Recruiters After?
The Islamic State is recruiting teens of the Muslim faith for the most part, but that could include recent converts, Middle Eastern teens born abroad, or Western teens who want to know more about Islam. Virtually any teen could become ensnared by an Islamic State recruiter, even if they are just at home on the internet. They can also encounter recruiters in the community or at school.
While the Islamic State promises many things to these young people, it is important for young people to realize the dangers and hardships, and also the cruelty and lack of freedom that is the true Islamic State’s reality. The Islamic State is recruiting teens without being truthful about the conditions, the risks or the sacrifices that might be expected of them, until they are committed to the cause.
[Photo via AP images]