As a parent, it’s difficult to imagine my children ever talking to an Islamic State recruiter online, let alone fall to their temptations. After watching a recent New York Times video, it’s easy to see how the vulnerable can be swayed. What can parents do to prevent conversion to Islam or even full recruitment into the clutches of ISIS?
There are two major things that are working against parents in America and other western societies. The first one is the psychology behind the ways that the Islamic State recruits. They have handbooks that give step-by-step details on how to lure anyone from the disenchanted, the angry, or even those who are simply bored and unfulfilled. The sophistication through which they engage with children, teens, and young adults is not the ideological ranting or maniacal hatred for America and Israel that many people perceive. That comes later. At first, it’s a passion. It’s a love affair. It’s a plea for peace and justice in a world that has misconceptions. It’s something that starts with friendship, moves up to something more personal, and ends with disaster.
It’s a seduction and it’s very effective.
The second thing that they have working in their favor is actually a combination of two trends: instant communication capabilities and a society that isn’t paying attention to the dangers of it. The communication component is, in many ways, a good thing. Through social media, Skype, email, and other electronic venues, the people of the world are closer to each other than ever before. Then again, it’s also a very bad thing because there’s very little a parent can do to completely isolate their children from the negative aspects that the World Wide Web and the mobile revolution have allowed.
As you watch this video, don’t dismiss it as one silly girl who fell for the wrong ideology. Recognize that she represents any young person who is fed up with the cultural pressures, inbound hatred from the international community, or simply the boredom of growing up in a connected society. She could be your son or daughter.
You should have them watch the video as well and talk to them about it.