Ex-jihadi explains ISIS brainwashing: ‘It kind of takes control of you’

The New York Post/October 31, 2016

By David K. Li

A convicted jihadi from Minnesota says he was so brainwashed that he would have had no qualms about carrying out brutal ISIS executions — as he warned other young Muslims against turning to terror.

“I say it’s not worth it. It’s not worth your family going through all the pain and suffering just because you believe in something that is total nonsense,” said Abdirizak Warsame. “That doesn’t make sense. It’s not worth your life.”

The 21-year-old faces up to 15 years behind bars for helping other Muslim youths join ISIS and for trying himself to join the terror group, where he said he intended to commit the kind of atrocities that have made the organization so notorious, such as beheadings, drownings and burning prisoners alive.

“Yeah, I was going to be, I was going to be participating in those activities,” Warsame told “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired Sunday night.

Warsame, a Somali immigrant from Minneapolis who came to the United States at age 10, was arrested last year.

He was 19 in 2014 when he helped two pals get passports and hooked them up with ISIS contacts in Syria.

His two pals reached Syria via Turkey, and were soon killed in action.

“I believe I am responsible for their deaths and I think about that every day,” Warsame said.

If he had ever gone through with going to Syria, Warsame said ruefully, “I probably would be dead right now.”

Warsame told “60 Minutes” that he turned to ISIS because he felt lost between the traditional Muslim household of his parents and his new, confusing American life.

“And so I kind of got into that culture, you know, music. Going to prom, dancing, it’s hard to kind of explain that stuff to your parents when they kind of really don’t understand what it is,” Warsame said.

The young man said he was introduced to terrorism through online videos of Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who was killed by a US drone in Yemen in 2011.

Watching al-Awlaki ranting on YouTube became his reality.

“It kind of takes control of you,” Warsame said.

“Most of the videos would talk about how, if you would engage in jihad, you would be doing your family favor. And that you would be saving their lives from eternal hellfire.”

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