ISIS recruitment has turned the terrorist organization from what President Barack Obama once called "the JV team" to a globally feared power, especially following the Paris attacks of Nov. 13 that left more than 120 Parisians dead.
How could an organization from such a financially destitute part of the world present an appealing-enough package to make Europeans and Americans alike want to join?
The answer to that is somewhat surprising, and it could be a point of attack against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as the 2016 Presidential election nears.
According to a recent piece for Business Insider and Yahoo, Jeremy Bender revealed the one major ISIS recruitment tool as told by a defector from the terrorist organization.
Bender writes that "people are joining the organization because they are desperate for money and are struggling to find a way to survive in Syria, where four years of civil war have decimated the economy."
Just how does ISIS recruitment work this to their advantage? By incorporating what the defector calls a true "welfare state."
"I rented a house, which was paid for by ISIS," said Abu Khaled, adding that he "provided training for foreign operatives."
"It cost $50 per month. They paid for the house, the electricity. Plus, I was married, so I got an additional $50 per month for my wife. If you have kids, you get $35 for each. If you have parents, they pay $50 for each parent. This is a welfare state."The ISIS recruitment method bears a strong resemblance to socialism -- at least how most Westerners perceive it -- where the state (in this case the Islamic State) provides for basic needs and comforts in exchange for the recipient's service.
Wherein a socialist state depends on high taxes to create benefits and provide for these basic needs, ISIS puts recruits on the payroll in exchange for their loyalty and military service.
While many would argue that it's not fair to compare the ISIS recruitment system to the brand of socialism that Sanders supports -- and the one that Clinton has shown shades of supporting through her increasing appeal to Sanders' supporters -- it's not difficult for their Republican opponents to make the connection.GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has already seized the moment, linking Sanders' socialist leanings to communism, though he has stopped short of putting his Democratic adversaries in bed with the Islamic State.
In an interview with Yahoo posted on Thursday (Nov. 19), Trump referred to Sanders as "that communist," illustrating that he's not afraid to up the rhetoric, and that he may be on the verge of doing so when it comes to linking Democrats to ISIS ideologically.
Furthermore, going back to a piece from the Hill in May of this year, there was already quite a bit of talk from Republicans that President Obama "created" ISIS.
Contributor H.A. Goodman saw it differently, pointing out that "it was President George W. Bush, not Obama, who negotiated the Status of Forces Agreement that set the timetable for a 2011 withdrawal of U.S. soldiers."
This early withdrawal, which happened during Obama's first term, is what many say led to the rise of the Islamic State. That does not, however, explain the tremendous growth in ISIS recruitment that has occurred since that time, nor does it explain away the fact that as president, Obama would have had some ability to adjust the withdrawal window as necessary.Ultimately, the GOP has begun to score points on the ISIS issue, with a recent Bloomberg poll noting that 53 percent of the country agrees that Syrian refugees should not be allowed into the country under current vetting procedures.
An additional 11 percent felt that only Christian refugees should be allowed in.
If the GOP is already using this issue to their advantage, look for them to seize on the ISIS/socialism connection in the coming days.
Do you think this highly effective ISIS recruitment method will spell trouble for Clinton and Sanders? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Global Panorama c/o Flickr Creative Commons]