ISIS Actively ‘Recruits’ Girls And Women Online
Religion & Liberty Online

ISIS Actively ‘Recruits’ Girls And Women Online

In an ugly twist on the world of online dating scams, ISIS (the Islamic terrorist group responsible for much evil in places like Syria and Iraq) is now actively recruiting girls and women in the West to join their cause. Jamie Detmer reports that ISIS is now using social media to seek out females who want to join the cause, mainly by stressing the domestic life that supports it.

The propaganda usually eschews the gore and barbaric images often included in the general fare of jihadist online posts, such as the beheadings last month of dozens of Syrian army soldiers after a base was overrun in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa.

Instead, the marketing focuses on what one analyst calls the “private sphere,” concentrating on the joys of jihadist family life and the “honor” of raising new fighters for Islam. The online recruiters stress the pleasure of providing the domesticity that a warrior waging jihad needs and by doing so serving Islam.

One U.S. analyst warns that this is becoming a “pipeline,” moving women from the West to Syria in order to marry jihadists. British officials are believed to have verified about twelve women who have gone to Syria to marry ISIS members. Some cases involve teens girls.

There have been several reports of European women traveling to Syria to join up with jihadists there. In April, two Austrian girls, aged 15 and 16, went missing in Vienna and resurfaced in Syria. They are being sought by Interpol. In May, 16-year-old British twins sneaked out of their home in Manchester and traveled to Syria to become jihadi brides. Salma and Zahra Halane telephoned their parents to tell them they had arrived in the war-torn country and told them “we’re not coming back.” And in July, the FBI arrested Denver nurse Shannon Maureen Conley, a 19-year-old Muslim convert, as she boarded a plane to fly to Turkey for onward travel to Syria—she was recruited online, although in her case by a Tunisian man who claimed he was fighting for ISIS.

Umm Layth is purportedly a British woman now married to an ISIS member. She uses social media to assist other women who wish to do the same. She has more than 2,000 Twitter followers, and distributes advice via an online guide:

Biggest tip to sisters: don’t take detours, take the quickest route, don’t play around with your Hijrah [religious migration] by staying longer than 1 day for safety and get in touch with your contacts as soon as you reach your destination.

Even if you know how right this path and decision is and how your love for Allah comes before anything and everything, this is still an ache which only one [who] has been through and experienced it can understand. The first phone call you make once you cross the borders is one of the most difficult things you will ever have to do…when you hear them sob and beg like crazy on the phone for you to come back it’s so hard,” she writes.She adds: “Many people in present day do not understand…why a female would choose to make this decision. They will point fingers and say behind your back and to your families’ faces that you are taking part in…sexual jihad.”

This is human trafficking wearing a different mask. Traffickers – whoever they are – prey on the young, the vulnerable, the weak. Why would we expect anything different from terrorists?

Read “The ISIS Online Campaign Luring Western Girls to Jihad” at the Daily Beast.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.