ISIS and the mystery of the jihadi brides

jihadi bridesA couple of Austrian girls are seeking a do-over, so to speak:

Two Austrian teens got way more than they bargained for when they abandoned their homes and families to become “poster girls” for ISIS terrorists, and now they desperately want to come home.

Samra Kesinovic, 17, and friend Sabina Selimovic, 15, would love to press the undo button on the last six months, during which they traded their comfortable existence in Europe for a life of evil engineered by terrorists.

Both are married to jihadis, both are pregnant, and both have now decided that life in dystopic, post-Christian Austria, on the whole, wasn’t all that bad.

They aren’t alone. From France:

On the day she left for Syria, Sahra strode along the train platform with two bulky schoolbags slung over her shoulder. In a grainy image caught on security camera, the French teen tucks her hair into a headscarf.

Just two months earlier and a two-hour drive away, Nora, also a teen girl, had embarked on a similar journey in similar clothes. Her brother later learned she’d been leaving the house every day in jeans and a pullover, then changing into a full-body veil.

Neither had ever set foot on an airplane. Yet both journeys were planned with the precision of a seasoned traveler and expert in deception, from Sahra’s ticket for the March 11 Marseille-Istanbul flight to Nora’s secret Facebook account and overnight crash pad in Paris.

Sahra and Nora are among some 100 girls and young women from France who have left to join jihad in Syria, up from just a handful 18 months ago, when the trip was not even on Europe’s security radar, officials say. They come from all walks of life – first- and second-generation immigrants from Muslim countries, white French backgrounds, even a Jewish girl, according to a security official who spoke anonymously because rules forbid him to discuss open investigations.

From Britain:

Melanie Smith from King’s College International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation has been tracking through their social media accounts 21 British women who have joined Isis. They include 16-year-old Manchester twins Zahra and Salma Halane, and 20-year-old former radiography student, Aqsa Mahmood, from Glasgow, who exhorted Muslims to carry out terrorist attacks in the west. “Follow the examples of your brothers from Woolwich, Texas and Boston,” she tweeted. “‘If you cannot make it to the battlefield, then bring the battlefield to yourself.”

The draw that ISIS has on young Europeans has been the subject of discussion. While many, perhaps a majority, of jihadi wannabes are second generation Muslims, a lot are not.

For a group of radical anti-Western militants, ISIS is pretty good at luring Westerners to its ranks.

The latest is an American teen from suburban Chicago who was allegedly on his way to join ISIS. Mohammed Hamzah Khan was stopped just before he was supposed to board a plane to Turkey, authorities said.

But he’s far from alone.

U.S., Arab nations attack ISIS in Syria U.S., Arab nations attack ISIS in Syria
Last month, U.S. authorities detailed their case against a New York food store owner accused of funding ISIS and plotting to gun down American troops who had served in Iraq.

The recruits are often young — sometimes disillusioned teenagers trying to find purpose and make their mark.
For many, it boils down to a lack of a sense of identity or belonging, Barrett said.
“The general picture provided by foreign fighters of their lives in Syria suggests camaraderie, good morale and purposeful activity, all mixed in with a sense of understated heroism, designed to attract their friends as well as to boost their own self-esteem,” he wrote.

Since prehistoric times, man has sought a meaning in his life beyond daily sustenance. This yearning has been the source of some mischief but it has also seen the development of arts, the humanities, and even the science that declares this yearning is a mere delusion. Post-Christian and, mostly post-nationalistic Europe has little to attract disaffected young people seeking meaning to their lives. These young people aren’t being lured to Syria and Iraq by “terrorism.” They are being lured there by Islam. That it is impolitic to state the obvious lest Ben Affleck wet himself in distress essentially disarms the West in its fight against Islamic fundamentalism and the indiscriminate terror that it advocates.

One might well ask why young European women would be attracted to a lifestyle that views them as little more that chattel. I would offer that in current Western culture, for all its talk of feminism, that women are seen as little more than a life support system for sex organs.  A quick look at the ads in Cosmo, an MTV music video, or the latest hit on HBO shows that feminism has become a by-word for promiscuity. The easy availability of divorce has shattered what was previously the cornerstone of society: the family. That young women who reject that culture might look for a belief system that offers them security and value, even if that value is based on childbearing, is hardly surprising.

One of the most significant disservices done to the nation by President Bush after 9/11 was his refusal to name our enemy for what it is. While all of Islam isn’t necessarily violent it is inherently intolerant (Deerborn, Michigan, outlawed evangelists distributing Christian literature at a public festival;  Malaysia has banned Christian from using the name Allah for God, Islamic theology notwithstanding). More to the point the violent part of Islam, as even Bill Maher has figured out, is not some rogue, outlying, heresy. The religious view that has manifested itself in al Qaeda and ISIS is how Islam is understood and practiced on the Arabian Peninsula and throughout the Maghreb.

 

In the words of Kevin Spacey as “Verbal” in the movie The Usual Suspects, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”