There's a lot of overlap with the UK sex grooming crisis
There's a lot of overlap with the UK sex grooming crisis here. The tactics are much the same as you see in cults.
The Jihadists targeted isolated and inexperienced young people, love bombed them, threatened with the withdrawal of affection, and brainwashed them with materials they didn't understand. They led with non-Jihad materials and the softer side of the Islamic State.
And yes they can get to your kids even if they don't know Allah from a hole in the wall.
Alex, a 23-year-old Sunday school teacher and babysitter, was trembling with excitement the day she told her Twitter followers that she had converted to Islam.
So on his guidance, Alex began leading a double life. She kept teaching at her church, but her truck’s radio was no longer tuned to the Christian hits on K-LOVE. Instead, she hummed along with the ISIS anthems blasting out of her turquoise iPhone, and began daydreaming about what life with the militants might be like.
“I felt like I was betraying God and Christianity,” said Alex, who spoke on the condition that she be identified only by a pseudonym she uses online. “But I also felt excited because I had made a lot of new friends.”
Also, very tellingly, they got their start by exploiting the publicity created by their atrocities. We like to think that ISIS atrocities alienate people, but the fact is that Islam has grown in the US precisely because of the publicity and sympathy it picks up from each act of terror, most crucially from 9/11. There are probably more converts to Islam after ISIS than there were after September 11.
It's ugly but that's human nature. And it's the history of Islam.
James Foley, a journalist she had never heard of, had been beheaded by ISIS, a group she knew nothing about. The searing image of the young man kneeling as the knife was lifted to his throat stayed with her.
Riveted by the killing, and struck by a horrified curiosity, she logged on to Twitter to see if she could learn more.
“I was looking for people who agreed with what they were doing, so that I could understand why they were doing it,” she said. “It was actually really easy to find them.”
She found herself shocked again, this time by the fact that people who openly identified as belonging to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, took the time to politely answer her questions.
“Once they saw that I was sincere in my curiosity, they were very kind,” she said. “They asked questions about my family, about where I was from, about what I wanted to do in life.”
And there you go. People react to how they're treated. Empathy is very easy to play out. And this was a mix of sex grooming and Jihadism, which for Muslims is one and the same.
Your a nice person with a beautiful character,” Faisal wrote her three days after the ordeal. “In many ways ur much better than many so called born muslims.”
He added: “getting someone 2 marry is no problem Inshallah.”
A few more days passed before he elaborated: “I know someone who will marry you but hes not good looking, 45 bald but nice muslim.”
In their hourslong Skype sessions, Faisal emphasized that it is a sin for a Muslim to stay among nonbelievers, and their talk increasingly began revolving around her traveling to “a Muslim land.” Though he never mentioned Syria, Alex understood that was what he meant, she said.
And this is how the road to Syria runs.
Of course once there it's quite possible Alex would have ended up as someone's third wife or as a concubine, a legalized prostitute, but that's common enough in sex trafficking operations. And ISIS is, among other things, a sex trafficking operation.
It was around then that Alex began suspecting that Faisal was speaking with other women, too. He acknowledged it, but shrugged it off: “My wife says shes fine with me & my female twitter sisters as long as i don’t run off to syria with them ha ha ha.”
It was only then that Alex searched his name on Google, she said.
Over multiple pages of results, she learned that a man named Faisal Mostafa who ran his own Islamic charity called the Green Crescent, with the same address that the packages to her had come from, was originally from Bangladesh, in his 50s and married with children.
Sex grooming can be in the UK, but it can reach out to the US as well. Meanwhile this overlaps with love bombing cult conversion tactics.
Alex’s online circle — involving several dozen accounts, some operated by people who directly identified themselves as members of the Islamic State or whom terrorism analysts believe to be directly linked to the group — collectively spent thousands of hours engaging her over more than six months. They sent her money and plied her with gifts of chocolate. They indulged her curiosity and calmed her apprehensions as they ushered her toward the hard-line theological concepts that ISIS is built on.
It's unfortunately a tried and true method. The average cult gets most of its recruits this way.
Hamad instructed Alex to download the “Islamic Hub” app on her iPhone. It sent her a daily “hadith,” or saying by the Prophet Muhammad.
She felt as if she finally had something to do.
Maybe now that Apple is purging the Confederate flag, it can get rid of apps like this that are far more dangerous?