You can pick your uniform, so long as you’re male
Recruits can come from anywhere, but may get more than they bargained for. ISIS has appealed to many young Westerners through social media and through imams who preach ISIS’ radical ideology. Two such recruits were Sabina Selimovic, 15, and Samra Kesinovic, 16. Selimovic and Kesinovic were born in Austria to families that had fled from war-torn Bosnia years before. In early 2014 the young women vanished. Posts on their Facebook accounts gave the first hints of where they went — Syria. Photos on their Facebook pages showed them holding AK-47 rifles, surrounded by armed young men. By October 2014, news outlets were reporting that the two teens were believed to be pregnant, married, and living in the ISIS-controlled town of Raqqa. In December 2014, a UN official stated that one of the two teens had likely died during the fighting in Syria, but this has been contested by friends of Selimovoc and Kesinovic who claim that they were contacted by the young women via social media. Later, unconfirmed news reports from November 2015 indicated that Kesinovic may have been beaten to death when she attempted to leave Raqqa.
Loyalty is demanded
Human rights group “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” reported that a 20 year old Syrian man executed his mother on behalf of ISIS. The mother had asked her son to abandon his association with ISIS and flee the city of Raqaa with her. Instead, Ali Saqr al-Qasem told local ISIS leaders of his mother’s request. ISIS leaders accused her of apostasy and ordered her to be killed. Al-Qasem shot his mother, Leena al-Qasem, with a rifle while hundreds of people watched.
Journalists are not welcome
Syrian journalist Ruqia Hassan was captured by ISIS in July of last year and executed in September. Her charge? “Espionage.” Hassan was based in Raqaa, Syria, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS. Hassan had written on the difficult life the people in Raqqa experienced. She critiqued ISIS, the Free Syrian Army, rebel groups, the Coalition bombing campaign and other aspects of life. It was her criticism of ISIS that cost her her life. News media reported that ISIS likely used Hassan’s own Facebook account to track down her associates, many of whom were also critics of the ISIS regime.
Your term of enlistment is… forever
In December 2014, a Financial Times news source claimed that ISIS has executed over 100 foreign fighters who were trying to leave the ISIS capital of Raqaa. A separate report in February 2015 from Business Insider magazine noted that ISIS had killed 120 from its own ranks, mostly fighters from other countries who had traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight. To underscore the control that ISIS wields over its own volunteers, it seizes the passports of would-be fighters as soon as they arrive at ISIS camps. A report of the stories of 58 defectors from ISIS can be found here: http://icsr.info/2015/09/icsr-report-narratives-islamic-state-defectors/.
If you are a foreign fighter traveling to Syria or Iraq, you shouldn’t plan to return to your home country unless you are prepared to go to jail. Many governments learn of the travel of would-be jihadis through friends, family and social media. Most countries have laws against supporting groups such as ISIS, which is on the United Nations list of designated terrorist organizations.
Your age is not a problem
Don’t be dissuaded by age: ISIS accepts and trains recruits as young as 7 years old. Many ISIS videos show children training with AK-47 assault rifles and training in combat tactics.
In a video released in February 2016, a young boy beheads a man captured by ISIS. The man was alleged to have belonged to a group supported by the Turkish and American governments.
Know your enemy
Your enemies may be other Muslims. In fact, ISIS kills more Muslims than individuals from any other religion. One of the biggest complaints by former ISIS fighters who defected was that ISIS focused on fighting other Sunni rebel groups, and paid significantly less attention to fighting the troops of Bashir al-Assad… the whole reason that the Syrian civil war started.
In summary, if you want to join ISIS, you should expect the following:
• Volunteering to fight for ISIS is often a one-way ticket.
• The conditions you will live under will be austere. Power, food, clean water and medical attention can be scarce in many areas. Many jihadis lack proper cold weather clothing.
• ISIS will not willingly let volunteers return home. Your passport and travel documents will likely be seized by ISIS trainers.
• Many children under 18 are trained and used by ISIS to fight, including one who was used to behead a prisoner.
• You will not be welcomed back to your home country.
• ISIS has executed over 3000 people for crimes including trying to leave Syria.
• ISIS has killed more Muslims than any other religious group in Syria.
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