Videos: The women of ISIS

The focus on Islamist radicalization in the Somali immigrant community in the Twin Cities has mostly focused on the men, and on al-Shabaab in their homeland. That focus in both cases has broadened, as WCCO in Minneapolis reported yesterday evening. ISIS has stepped up its online recruitment of women in English-speaking countries, using cheery videos of frolicking children and an emphasis on the need for nurturing their terrorist fighters to draw teens to the fight in Syria and Iraq, far from both the West and their own heritage. And as WCCO notes, they’re not traveling on their own credit cards, either:


The latest ISIS recruit from Minnesota is a 19-year-old woman who told her family she will be taking care of wounded fighters in Syria.

Somali-American leaders say they know of at least two other young women who have also left, and they believe at least 15 Minnesotans are among at least 100 Americans who have joined ISIS from around the world. …

Bihi said someone on the ground in Minnesota is giving these young people money.

“Somebody in here is buying a ticket these children cannot afford,” Bihi said. “They do not know where Syria is, someone is guiding them.”

Bihi believes ISIS is luring some recruits with a sophisticated media campaign.

ISIS has posted a number of videos on YouTube aimed at recruiting westerners.

One might think that women raised in the West would be able to see through this propaganda, but it’s clearly having an effect. And it’s not limited to the Twin Cities, Minnesota, or the US, either. A Scottish family of self-described moderate Muslims considered their daughter to be “the best daughter” they could have, but a couple of weeks ago she kissed them goodbye, later telephoning them to say, “I want to be a martyr.” She grew up in Western culture — a fan of Harry Potter and Coldplay — but got radicalized anyway:

The lesson here is that focusing on specific mosques attempting to radicalize and recruit simply isn’t enough. ISIS has its propaganda machine more finely tuned than people realize, and are better organized as well. They get an estimated $1 million a day from the black market sale of oil from fields they have seized, and they’re putting that cash to use in getting vulnerable young adults to fly to their camps. The money trail has to be found and dismantled soon, or Western nations will face even more threats from citizens who decide to return to their countries to conduct the war closer to home.


The US has produced a video that aims to counter the warm-fuzzy propaganda that attracted these young women. This video is definitely Not Safe for Work, with extremely graphic images — and those intentionally included for its specific purpose:

The U.S. has produced and distributed a graphic mock Islamic State propaganda video to fight the Sunni militant group via social media. The video, “Welcome to ISIS Land,” was published by the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, the State Department said in an email statement to the press Thursday night.

The mock video shows graphic images of the militant group committing crimes that have been widely reported by the media over the past two months and that are now being investigated by the United Nations. The video looks similar to those distributed and promoted by ISIS militants on social media outlets such as Twitter and YouTube.

The video appeared in English on July 23 and in Arabic on July 25. Footage for the video was taken from the ISIS propaganda videos and Iraqi news footage, the statement said. But the video also contains images and scenes from Vice Media’s ISIS documentary series.

Part of the video shows footage of ISIS fighters throwing bodies into a canyon. That footage was published by a Syrian opposition activist group, Masarat, which ISIS never meant to be released, the statement said.


“Think again, turn away,” the video concludes. Western nations need to do a lot more of this, but they mostly need to track the money and shut down the travel agencies of ISIS. In the meantime, this might be a good idea, too:

The Senate could move to strip Americans fighting alongside Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) of their U.S. citizenship under a new bill set to be introduced next week by Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), according to a source close to the senator’s office.

With intelligence reports indicating that up to 100 Americans could be fighting with ISIL and similar terror groups in the Middle East, Cruz and other lawmakers have warned that current U.S. regulations do not prevent these American passport holders from slipping back into the United States, where they would pose a significant terror risk.

Cruz intends to file the Expatriate Terrorist Act (E.T.A.) on Monday when the Senate is called back into session following its summer recess, according to the Cruz source.

The bill would effectively strip those Americans proved to be fighting alongside ISIL of their U.S. citizenship and block them from reentering the country. The legislation resembles a similar House bill by Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) that also seeks to stem the flow of American ISIL fighters back into the country.

Any U.S. citizen who would travel to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside ISIL is repudiating their rights and citizenship under U.S. law, Cruz told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement.


Interestingly, that would provide an ex post facto legitimacy for the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, rhetorically if obviously not legally. That does raise the question of why we’ve waited so long to act on the issue of those who leave the US to fight for terrorist organizations, as it’s not a new problem.

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