Drivers Letters: ISIS Recruit

12 Washington Street
Lynn, MA 01904-3306
DOT Number: 638928
ICC# MC300615

Date: 08/01/2015

Dear Professional Driver,

It is evident the Islamic State (ISIS) and other radical Islamist Groups have established their presence in the United States. How can this be with the Immigration Department and Department of Homeland Security protecting our borders? The fact is these radical groups don’t need to cross our borders. They use the Internet and social media to recruit, train, having our own citizens carry out terrorist attacks against us. You may ask yourself, how can our own people do this to us?

In an attempt to understand what motivates these individuals, I was referred to an article written by Massarah Mikati in the July 8th Issue of “Deseret News National”.  The article has us going back and remember our adolescence. We can agree that time was very stressful for us. We were always searching for life answers, having identity crises, family problems and needing to feel we belonged to something. To assist us in those days we had organized sports, our church, scouting, YMCA, Police Athletic Leagues, etc. These programs provided the guidance and mentorship so necessary during this confusing period in our lives. Today’s adolescents have the same issues we had however, they have the Internet whereas we did not. Instead of using the resources we used, they turn to the Internet for answers. The Internet cannot provide teenagers with an identity nor feeling they belong to something. The absence of these two social needs create a variety of issues attributing to a sense of alienation from society. This feeling of alienation is made even worse due family issues, lack of education and economic opportunity or having psychological or medical problems.

Radical Islamists prey on this adolescent sense of alienation by simply using social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). They know how to target these young people and lure them into their cause. ISIS has created the most powerful recruitment machine that exploits adolescent vulnerabilities by tapping into their search for an identity and community.  These extremist groups promise teenagers a package they so desperately need: friendship, loyalty, affiliation with a successful organization having a worldwide reputation. Western teenagers aren’t really concerned with the Islamic religion, they want to identify with a community and be a part of it. To legitimize the violence associated with these extremist groups, violence is innate to humans and, at times, the only solution to a problem. These extremists preach this message and say violence is “condoned by none other than God”.

One way to dismantle the appeal of Radical Islamist groups is to give adolescents what they are looking for at home. After the Boston Marathon bombings the Muslim Public Affairs Council launched a campaign called “Safe Spaces Initiative: Tools for Developing Healthy Communities.” The campaign issued a toolkit for dealing with the radicalization of adolescents. The tools include:

•    Prevention – Build healthy communities by getting kids off social media and getting them involved within their community
•    Intervention – Having counseling available to show the adolescent how more complex and dangerous their affiliation is with these radical groups
•    Law Enforcement – Reaching out to law enforcement agencies when nothing else works.

Ervin Staub, a professor at UMASS, Amherst says to “Generate meaningful joint projects between people… It can on the one hand create a sense of belonging, but on the other hand attribute to higher ideals of humanity and people living together in peaceful ways.”

Be Safe!