ISIS is on most people’s minds these days, but those paying attention have been watching the explosion of atrocities of ISIS for over a year. Along with the Islamic State of Iraq, there has been major development of insurgents and other terrorists in Syria, with “rebels” being armed and trained by America. In August of 2013, it was reported that foreign fighters and militants were pouring into Syria to help in the fighting. While the world has watched politicians and leaders bickering over what to do about the brutal and barbaric spread of ISIS, until recently few have paid attention to the young girls who have attempted to go to Syria to give themselves to the ISIS terrorists and/or fight for them.
Last month the UK Guardian had an article highlighting some cases of young women leaving home to fight with ISIS. Girls as young as 14 or 15 are travelling mainly to Syria to marry jihadists, bear their children and some taking up arms which have understandably caused concern among counter-terrorism experts. Girls from Canada, Germany, France, the UK, the US and Austria have gone and some have appeared in ISIS propaganda videos dressed in army camo and carrying rifles. Most are recruited via social media.
In an article in Foreign Policy focusing on Isis’s treatment of women, former CIA analysts said fighters were “committing horrific sexual violence” in unprecedented numbers adding, “the United Nations last month estimated that [Isis] has forced some 1,500 women, teenage girls and boys into sexual slavery. Amnesty International released a blistering document noting that [Isis] abducts whole families in northern Iraq for sexual assault and worse…”
In France, 15 year old Nora el-Bathy left for school one morning last January and never returned home. Instead, she took a train to Paris, took money out of her savings account and boarded a flight for Istanbul, Turkey, and from there took another flight to the Syrian border.
Back in her home in Avignon, her parents, who are westernized Muslims, reported their daughter as missing. The family found no clues to her whereabouts until her brother, a former French Soldier, questioned her closest friends and found she had been in contact with “jihad recruiters” from Paris through a separate Facebook account. Claiming that she had lost her identity card, she asked her parents for her passport. No one in her family believed she had been planning to run away to fight with ISIS.
19 year old American Muslim convert Shannon Conley’s plan to serve as a nurse for ISIS in Syria ended in April of this year when she was arrested at the airport in Denver. According to court documents, her family was shocked to find she was interested in “violent jihad”.
Three more girls from Colorado possibly tried to join ISIS militants. According to a CBS article, a Colorado school official said the Denver-area girls of Sudanese descent–two sisters aged 17 and 15, and a 16-year-old friend–were victims of an online predator who encouraged them to travel overseas and eventually to Syria. Islamic extremists lure younger women with “Disney-like versions” of what it is like to live under Muslim leadership, complete with promises of husbands and homes.
The girls were detained at an airport in Germany, brought back to the States, interviewed by the FBI and then returned to their parents in a Sudanese community in a suburb of Denver. Officials said “There’s no indication they had been radicalized in a way that they wanted to fight for ISIS.” Evidence so far made it clear that the girls were headed to Syria, though investigators were still trying to determine what sort of contacts they had there.
According to the NY Daily News Oct. 28th, a father of one of the girls was shocked: “My daughter did unbelievable, unthinkable things… I don’t want any other person to go through this. If I didn’t get her back, I don’t know what would have happened to me.”
One of the more disturbing cases is that of Austrian girls, Samra Kesinovic, 16, and her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15.
The girls, whose families are of Bosnian descent, ran away from their Vienna homes in April to Syria, telling their families in a note, “Don’t look for us. We will serve Allah and we will die for him.”
From October 27th The Vienna Times reports that Austrian anti-terrorism police believe that an interview given to a French magazine allegedly with one of the girls was probably done at gunpoint. The girls are believed to have been influenced by their local mosque. A later claim that they wanted to leave and come back to Austria had reportedly infuriated ISIS leaders and according to Austrian authorities and likely that they would have been ordered to retract anything they had said to keep the flow of recruits coming.
An Austrian security insider said, “If they really want it to be believable that the girls are now claiming they don’t want to come home, they should let them give the interview on neutral territory where it’s possible to see that they aren’t being threatened by a gun...”
Both the girls were married as soon as they crossed over the border into Syria.
Speaking through text messages to French weekly magazine Paris Match, Sabina said she was not pregnant as had been claimed. She was reported as saying “Here I can really be free. I can practice my religion. I couldn’t do that in Vienna.”
The magazine did manage to confirm that the teenager had only been allowed to speak to them with the permission of her husband, who was also reportedly in the room as she wrote back answers to the questions. In Vienna, experts who studied the transcript of the interview said it was almost certain that the teenager had been forced to speak to the magazine by her husband, who was a fighter with ISIS. They also said that the story which was shared worldwide, about the pair wanting to leave, had done a lot of damage to the ISIS campaign, and it was clear they were trying to put that right.
The two girls could find themselves prosecuted if they do ever manage to return. Austrian police who are looking into the events surrounding girls’ disappearance have made a file about the girls’ links with terrorist groups including the note left for their parents.
What would make a young girl go not only to fight with a barbaric group like ISIS, but also wish to marry and have children by them? How are these young girls able to fly to Syria at all?
An article from Hot Air posed the same question concerning the girls from Denver, Colorado. The author, Jazz Shaw remarked,
“The number of questions raised by this story are rather hard to wrap your brain around… One of the first questions to be answered is, how did these kids manage the financial and logistical requirements to make this trip in the first place…
So how did they become sufficiently radicalized that they saw leaving their country and flying off to go fight with a group of people who routinely sell children into “marriage” or sexual slavery as a good idea? If they have access to ISIS videos on the web, then they also can watch the news and presumably know what ISIS is up to. I find it hard to believe that they came to this state of mind entirely on their own… This sounds like a deeper problem than disaffected, bored youth being led astray via their laptops and cell phones, and could signal something worse in the home and/or the community…”
A lot of investigators and experts bring up the word “radicalization”. In the US we have a Constitutional right to freedom of religion, and in light of the recent controversy of a Houston, Texas mayor subpoenaing area Pastors for their sermons and personal papers, one has to carefully consider that the State and Federal governments have no rights to go into places of worship to investigate their leadership.
The problem is that in the Muslim community, some mosques teach the same Islamic ideologies which Islamic jihadists adhere to. Muslims who immigrate to the west have created their own “Islamic States” within their communities, and have been known to use our Constitution to undermine our rights, such as freedom of speech, and by using the right of religious freedom to preach and teach jihad from the Mosque.
Until these issues are addressed by citizens and our representatives, we will most likely see more young Muslims and new converts committing their lives to jihad and joining our enemies in the Middle East. We will also see more cases of them fighting their jihad here such as Canada’s recent terrorist attacks in which two Soldiers including Cpl. Nathan Cirillo were murdered.