Happily Ever After?

Posted on May 1, 2015 by


The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, more popularly known as ISIS, started growing popular in the United States during late 2014. In 2014, there was believed to be up to 30,000 fighters, which included lots of local supporters. It was estimated that over 1,000 westerners had traveled to Syria to fight with the extremist groups, according to National Counterterrorism Center Director, Matthew Olsen. As ISIS becomes more popular in the United States, its fan-base with young people only increases. The media has played a crucial role in the popularity of ISIS, with ISIS support groups created on Twitter, and ISIS brides recruiting the young adults to join.

Recruiting young women is a generally simple task for ISIS. All teen girls have to do is log on to Twitter, and they can see tweets from women who are ISIS brides, like Umm Layt, talking about how wonderful their life is. Umm Layth, otherwise known as Aqsa Mahmood, joined ISIS in November 2013 after fleeing to Syria from her hometown in Scotland. She now is often seen on social media, expressing the terrorist group’s ideology, and calling out for attacks against the West. She promises girls a great life, saying all their needs will be taken care of. They are promised a husband and a free house, with top of the line appliances, such as a fridge, microwave, and a milkshake machine. Girls are told their husbands will care for them, and if he dies, she will instantly be transformed into a hero- being the wife of a martyr. The female recruiters basically put the young girls at ease, and slowly get them to lower their guard. They interact with each other online, and they develop friendships, build trust, and establish rapport, which creates an environment of secrecy. It will also distance the young girls away from their other friends, as well as their family members, making it easier to flee the country.

Some of the women envision their life in ISIS as the Disney movie Mulan, hoping to go out into the battlefield and become a martyr themselves. Because of this, in January 2015, ISIS released a guide for women in the Islamic State, making it clear that women’s roles would be limited to the household. Their only duties would be cleaning, taking care of the children, and cooking. Since taking care of their children is one of their only jobs, women are encouraged to have many children as soon as possible. It’s not only an anchor for the men to stay, but also for the fast-growing Islamic State. By having children in the Islamic State ensures that there will be future generations to carry on the Islamic way.

ISIS recruits young, male, foreign fighters by promising them two major things: a salary and a wife (sometimes more than one). Men who are underemployed or unemployed, and want a spouse/family are eager to take ISIS up on their offer. Even though ISIS has recruited more than enough men to be fighters, they still worry about loss of troops and defection. By promising the men a house, a wife, and a child, the men will be inclined to stay. ISIS has also instituted a payment system where you are paid for every child you have in the Islamic State, making couples even more eager to start a family under ISIS rule.

http://videos.nymag.com/video/Canadian-Calls-for-Jihad          (Abu Muslim video)

In the video clip above, Andre Poulin is a Canadian who converted to Islam. He states that it was his own choice to join ISIS. Poulin, who know goes by the name Abu Muslim, created a video message to send back to his friends and family. He claimed he was just a regular person, who had a job, money, good friends and family, and wasn’t crazy. He said that ISIS needed engineers, doctors, or any type of professional who could help them out, which is why he converted to Islam to join ISIS. He wanted to help, so he states that every person can contribute something to the Islamic State, in hopes of getting more recruiters. (ISIS now uses this video clip as propaganda to recruit Westerners).

Out of all of the articles I read about ISIS, and teens running away to join the group, almost all of them are negative. They have pictures of the male fighters, holding their black flags walking through the streets, and pictures of people wearing all black, carrying guns and wearing masks. The first impressions are all negative by the pictures, indicating they are all up to no good. ISIS is always identified as the “bad guy” in every article, since it is recruiting young teens from all over the world to join their group. In one of the ABC articles, the background of the article is black, which sets the mood for a dark story. Seeing the black background gives me the impression that the topic they are about to cover is dark and serious. The general tone about ISIS in each article is negative, which is understandable. The articles about the teenage girls who have ran away to be ISIS brides have some of the worst light because they have been brainwashed by people they have met online to believe they would have a better life in Syria.

One of the articles I found about how ISIS uses marriage as a trap, showcases joining ISIS as a very bad idea. They say the future generation of children will be “trained, brainwashed, and able to ensure the longevity of the group…’ The author clearly states her feelings against ISIS, and how recruiting young people will not only brainwash them, but their future children as well.

As for the articles written about Aqsa Mahmood, sympathy is being showcased. CNN interviewed her parents, who are distraught, just like any other parent would be if they found out their child had fled the country to join a terrorist group. You can see how emotional and upset Aqsa’s parents are in the video interview. Aqsa’s parents have even gone as far as issuing a public statement that states, “You are a disgrace to your family and the people of Scotland. Your actions are a perverted and evil distortion of Islam. You are killing your family every day with your actions. (We) are begging you to stop if you ever loved (us).” The news article still showcases a very negative view on ISIS, and what it’s doing to our children, but the author of this article brings in the family aspect of trying to save their daughter.

Because of how the media represents ISIS, more people are going to have the same feelings as the reporters do. Since all of the articles talking about ISIS are negative, the people reading all of the articles are going to have those same opinions.

After reading the countless articles and watching dozens of video clips about ISIS and their recruitment styles, I am saddened over how many young teenagers have been brainwashed by ISIS. In my opinion, I feel as though these girls who have been convinced of a better life in Syria have low self-esteem, where they don’t think they can have that same great life in their own hometown, with their friends and family. Some articles talked about how parents thought this was just a teenage phase they were going through, but they ended up taking extreme measures to ruin their life. I think most of these young teenagers who run away feel like they have no use being in their own family, so they have to flee the country and join a terrorist group to feel accepted. I just can’t imagine leaving everything I know and care about, to join a terrorist group, become an ISIS bride, and having my life be completely changed, and not in the good way.

In conclusion, I agree with how the media showcases ISIS. ISIS is brainwashing teenagers into thinking they would have a better life if they moved to Syria to join ISIS. In reality, it would only ruin their lives; they would be miserable, and probably end up being killed by another ISIS member. All of the media shows ISIS in a bad light, which I think is understandable. There is no good way to put a spin on a terrorist group convincing teens to join their group, by promising them a better life. In my opinion, the media portrays ISIS exactly how it is, negative and something we should stop.


Banco, E. (2014, September 5). Why Do People Join ISIS? The Psychology Of A Terrorist. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from http://www.ibtimes.com/why-do-people-join-isis-psychology-terrorist-1680444

Bloom, M. (2015, March 20). How ISIS Is Using Marriage as a Trap. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mia-bloom/isis-marriage-trap_b_6773576.html

Fantz, A., & Shubert, A. (2015, February 24). The story of a Scottish girl turned ISIS recruiter – CNN.com. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/23/world/scottish-teen-isis-recruiter/index.html

Ferran, L., & Momtaz, R. (2015, February 23). ISIS Trail of Terror. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from http://abcnews.go.com/WN/fullpage/isis-trail-terror-isis-threat-us-25053190

Mullen, J. (2015, February 25). What is ISIS’ appeal for young people? Retrieved April 30, 2015, from http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/25/middleeast/isis-kids-propaganda/index.html

Singal, J. (2014, August 18). Why ISIS Is So Terrifyingly Effective at Seducing New Recruits. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/08/how-isis-seduces-new-recruits.html

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