In a YouTube video, Andre Poulin, a Canadian who converted to Islam in Syria last year said people, his family inclusive, don’t understand why he left his country and joined up with Islamic State militants to fight jihad.
According to Poulin, “Before I come here to Syria, I had money, I had a family, I had good friends. It wasn’t like I was some anarchist or somebody who just wants to destroy the world and kill everybody. I was a regular person,” Poulin, who now calls himself Abu Muslim, said in the message. “We need the engineers, we need doctors, we need professionals. Every person can contribute something to the Islamic State.”
So are you a Nigerian travelling abroad? You have to beware of certain things so that you don’t get recruited into a terrorist organization without realizing it; and mind you, you do not have to travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS before you join the group, you can be radicalized into carrying out a home attack on US soil in the name of ISIS to be a jihadist for the group.
1. Beware of certain Islamic literature: Please don’t get this wrong, but almost 30% of people interviewed and being tried for religious crimes in the US confessed they took up arms for the ISIS after reading various Islamic literatures – which ended up radicalizing them. Not all, but a select few are written and circulated for the purpose of radicalizing and recruiting unwary youths, and just like magic, it works after reading and dwelling on such literature.
2. Watch your sympathies: That is correct. When you get abroad, some people will tell you the evil the US and its allies are doing in fighting Islamic insurgents in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other African countries and say you must try to avenge the people of those countries by carrying out a domestic attack on US soil if you can’t travel to join ISIS. Be wary of such discussions and flee before they reconfigure your mind.
3. Keep away from jihadists’ sites: You must understand that ISIS is now using social media and online videos to call for recruitments into its fold, so keep away from such media and purge their content from your mind. According to sociologist Samir Amghar, author of the book Militant Islam in Europe, “The Islamist radicalization going on today isn’t with preachers anymore, acting within mosques, but individuals who are using the Internet as a means of propaganda.”
4. Do not think that anyone needs you for some religious service:“Oh my Muslim brothers in France, Europe and in the whole world, Jihad in Syria is obligatory,” said a French man who joined ISIS together with his younger brother after travelling to Syria. “There are many Muslims in the world and we need you.” It is a lie; they want to recruit you to join a terrorist organization.
5. Do not accept payment to spy for anyone: When you get abroad, do not accept payments to watch a section of the street, or report activities going on at a particular area of your neighborhood because you might not know who you are working for.
“We tend to think they are crazy,” John Horgan, a psychologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, said. “Because of what terrorists do, we assume that can be explained via the pathology of those people, but trying to explain terrorism as mental illness is misleading. They want to find something meaningful for their life,” he said. “Some are thrill seeking, some are seeking redemption.”
And according to Max Abrahms, an expert on terrorism from Northeastern University, “If you ask terrorists why they joined an organization after they have been in it, they will pair it with the official line of the group,” Abrahms said. “But in reality they don’t join the group for that reason,” and then he added: “They have become so adept at social media that they are reaching out to disaffected individuals on a global scale,” he said.