The Teenage Fans of ISIS

ISIS's online recruitment efforts have attracted the interest of young people far outside the Middle East

The Atlantic/October 22, 2014

By Polly Mosendz

Last week, three teenage girls from America were picked up in Germany as they attempted to travel halfway around the world in order to join ISIS. A father of one of the girls, Assad Ibrahim, had been in touch with his daughter on Friday, after her school called to tell him she never made it to class that day. The teenager told her dad that she was just running late, but failed to come home that night. The other two, who are sisters, claimed they were at the library when their dad, Ali Farah, called. The three girls were reported missing soon after.

The parents discovered that the girls' passports and about $2,000 in cash was missing. They contacted the FBI, suspecting (correctly) that their daughters were en route to Turkey. The agency was able to put a notice on the three passports, according to CNN, which led to the girls being turned straight back to the U.S. after they arrived in Frankfurt, Germany.

The oldest girl, 17, had reportedly been planning the trip for several months and recruited the two younger girls. The FBI is now working to understand who was helping the girls in their research and who recruited them to join the movement. Their parents believe ISIS reached out to their daughters directly, the way any online predator might.

Thus far, ISIS has allegedly recruited more than a hundred Americans to join their terrorist efforts. Much of their recruitment is done online, often through videos. Ever since ISIS released a video of American journalist James Foley's murder in August, their web presence has only increased, relying heavily on violent videos and propaganda messages to attract potential young jihadists.

Their efforts have reached into other corners of the globe, as well. Two young women, Austria's Samra Kesinovic, 16, and Sabina Selimovic, 15, joined ISIS earlier this year, though they have recently relayed a message to loved ones that they wish to escape. (Of course, leaving a terrorist organization is not quite that easy.) This week, an ISIS propaganda video showed another recent recruit: a white, Australian teenager. The 17-year-old, Abdullah Elmir, told relatives that he was going on a fishing trip with a friend in June and had not been heard from since. It is believed Elmir then traveled to Syria, crossing in through the Turkish border, and joined ISIS. (His friend was intercepted by relatives.) 

His family is now working with Australian officials in an attempt to bring him home. "What is concerning is that if the Federal Police and ASIO had the intelligence, they why did they fail to stop him from departing or fail to stop the boy while he was in Turkey?," Zali Burrows, a lawyer for his family, told the Sydney Morning Herald. "The family believes that the government knows where their boy is and they just want them to bring him home." His parents have said the boy was "brainwashed" by the terrorist organization.

Elmir is joined in the video by a large group of terrorists, all armed and dressed in combat gear, and addresses the United States, Britain and Australia directly, in the boastful tone typical of the group's other statements. “And I say this about your coalition. You threaten us with this coalition of countries. Bring every nation that you wish to us," says Elmir. "Bring every nation that you want to come and fight us. It means nothing to us.”

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos