ISIS has set itself apart from other Islamic terrorist groups by the sophistication of its online and social media propaganda efforts which have helped lure hundreds, perhaps thousands, of impressionable young people from countries around the world to Syria to join the fanatical so-called Islamic State.
The group’s social media efforts, unbelievably, include a dating service for radical Muslim fundamentalists — a Twitter account known as “Jihadi Matchmaker.”
“The very idea of an ISIS dating site sounds like a sick joke, but it is proving all-too-real for one family in Bristol, England, whose 15-year-old daughter, police believe, ran away to join ISIS after contacting someone on the site and possibly falling prey to an online seduction by ISIS jihadists.”
Yusra Hussien, whose mom calls her “a typical teenager…a very young bright bubbly girl who is loved by not only her family but her peers, teachers and her community,” was last seen on September 24 when she cut school and got on a bus from Bristol to London’s Heathrow Airport, where she met up with a still-unidentified 17-year-old girl.
How Yusra became acquainted with the 17-year-old is still a mystery, but the two girls then somehow were able to board a flight to Turkey. From there, British security officials believe, they may have entered or are attempting to enter Syria, where they would join ISIS.
At a tearful and heartbreaking press conference Wednesday, Yusra’s 40-year-old mother Safiya Hussien begged her daughter to come home, but also said that there is “no concrete evidence” that Yusra had run away to become “a jihadi bride.”
Nonetheless, U.K. security services say that the Jihadi Matchmaker Twitter feed has attracted hundreds of young women who become infatuated with ISIS fighters they meet online through the service, offering themselves up as marriage material.
How many of those young women and girls have followed through on their misguided online relationships and actually fled to Syria remains unclear. But friends of Yusra Hussien have said they believe she was “brainwashed” by her online contacts with extreme ISIS jihadists.
The Jihadi Matchmaker Twitter account has said that it is not affiliated with ISIS, but it employs the same symbolic imagery used by the ISIS propagandists as it offers women the chance for a “halal” marriage ceremony to a genuine jihadist militant in Syria.
“Picture all the little mujahideen running around,” said one posting on the ISIS related matchmaking site.