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Growing Outreach: Combatting ISIS Recruitment in Middle East

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]world this weekISIS, known to us by many names, including the Islamic State group, ISIL and Daesh, is an armed militant group operating heavily in Iraq and Syria. The group began its operations in 2004 after deflating from a much larger group Al-Qaeda, before rebranding itself ISIS almost two years ago. In the yearly 2014, ISIS along with local Sunni militant groups took control of the city of Fallujah from the Iraqi government. The group then seized control over Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in the early October 2014. However its base of operations is Raqqah, eastern Syria, where “ISIS is in control more than half of Syria’s oil assets (oil fields)” as stated by the energy expert Luay al-Khateeb. More than 11,000 fighters have joined the fight from abroad, although some officials suggest, many fighters left for home. The “Online” Recruitment One of the tools ISIS uses for recruitment is YouTube, especially targeting the poor in communities all over the globe. A report by the UN Security Council, obtained by the Guardian, states that “more 15,000 people have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State (ISIS) and similar extremist groups”. The ISIS is using popular social media platforms and the “Internet Culture” for propaganda. Their “Jihadi selfies” connect the youth’s and attracts their attention through various sociability’s. Jihadists are just not restricted to “Facebook” posts, they talk about about their favourite food items (Nutella), comment on sports (football) and discuss their favourite films. Apart from the beheading videos, the ISIS has taken the use of social application such as Twitter and Facebook, Ask.fm and private messaging media to promote their ideology. Their propaganda has reached out not only to the Muslims, but also the converts and the sympathetic’s, but the fact that in a very few timeline they have established a caliphate, is a perfect example of fundamental recruits they have. For a fundamental radical Islamists to join a crusade takes years, but here, in the caliphate, anyone with a cause can pick up arms in the fight. The ISIS shows the “brighter side” of the image, giving a sense of responsibility or a position to the future radical fighter. Citizens who joined the fight are asked to impose radical ISIS law in the region. Among the natural born Muslim’s, the ISIS’ interpretation of the caliphate may not be the same as ours, the idea of misrepresenting the caliphate to the younger Muslims is a reason why most of the “new joinee” are young. One of the major issues that lies ahead of us is the lack of education, and the lack open condemns from the Muslim communities. This is precisely why ISIS is able to twist the wordings from the Qur’an to justify their deeds. (Education in these areas cannot be limited to or defined by literacy.) Also from early August 2014, the US has launched a series of Air raids on the regions controlled by the ISIS. The amount of ISIS that, in a brief period of time, rose from 1300 to 3,000 concerns every nations still today; today, the ISIS almost recruits 20 fighters every day. Mostly from the occupied regions of Syria. These recruits were mostly between 15 to 20 years Previous Actions   Although ISIS has been condemned at the international arena and every global nation has expressed “deep” concern regarding this upcoming threat, but “actions” speak louder than words. Not long ago Secretary General Madani stated that “Now, how do we face up to movements like ISIS? This is the question that everybody is contemplating now. Our conviction in the OIC is that it’s not enough to do military work. It’s not enough to attack with airstrikes, and drones or whatever— not even with ground troops. This will not do it. This is necessary, but it has to be combined with efforts on other fronts. First, is whoever advocates such ideas, whether they are within ISIS or outside of ISIS, should be confronted!! These extreme notions and interpretations of Islam were not invented by the ISIS. They have also been the views of some “scholars” in some of the Islamic countries. And these people have to be confronted, because they don’t realize that what they say is used to recruit young people with very little knowledge about Islam. So that’s one line, the intellectual, the theoretical, the source of justifying an Islamic battle. The second one is the economic situation, the poverty, the exclusion, the sense of despair that most of these young people are going through. We have to address this question. So it has to be a multifaceted effort.” In an effort to find a solution to this craving insanity, the recently held “Second General Assembly” of the Islamic Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation sought appropriate measures to denominational clashes, violence-oriented radical movements, rights of women and education in the Islamic world. International Stand Iran Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani had strongly condemned the actions of the ISIS and had pledged to work with Iraq while joining the fight against the militants. Early in December they sent Sukhoi Su-25 fighter aircrafts to assist the Iraqi defences. F-4 Phantom airplanes were also sent by Iran in an effort to weaken the enemy force. From time to time Iran has been training Iraqi soldiers. While addressing the Lebanese Counter parts in Tehran on Saturday, Brig.-Gen. Hossein Dehqan said that “ISIS and Israel are two sides of the same coin”, a comment which attracted worldwide criticism. Iran however, has expressed “deep concern” on the air raids by US fighter aircrafts. Mr. Rouhani considered this move as “ridiculous and completely unwanted”. According to him ground forces will prove to be more effective rather than aerial raids and if a victory is to be achieved, sacrifices have to be made. On the contrary, the US is quite confident on Iran’s position in the Middle East as its stands on counter terrorism will turn the tides. POTUS sent a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei to assure him that air strikes in Iraq are not a challenge to Tehran’s influence, rather pointing the direction of eliminating ISIS. Iraq The then President al Maliki sought air support from the US, which the US did provide but only after his resignation, which he did. Iraqi troops on the ground are currently battling ISIS with the help of Iranian forces and support from a variety of countries like Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, The Czech republic. Syrian and Iraqi Kurds have also join the fight. Iraq’s army has been heavily defeated by the ISIS and still Iraqi soldiers are outmatched and outgunned, so Iraq continues to appeal nations for help. It is also important to understand that Al Maliki’s political ambiguousness encouraged the Sunni’s to join ISIS. Syria Syria has been battling the ISIS for a very long time and its anti-ISIS efforts have been commendable. However, it has, like its ally Iran, disagree on the use of air raids. Deputy Prime Minister Walid al Moualem, during the sixty ninth UN general assembly session said “The Syrian Arab Republic reiterates that it stands with any international effort aimed at fighting and combating terrorism, and stresses that this must be done in full respect of the lives of innocent civilians and within the frame of full respect of national sovereignty, and in conformity with international conventions,” The US has conducted numerous aerial operations in Syria. Additionally Syria has requested the Western powers to lift sanctions and ban on specific Syrian officials, as they will prove to be very effective. On the other hand Assad is also under pressure from the West as the west wants another leaders to fight the ISIS in light of Assad’s alleged chemical warfare against his people. On the ground, US and Syrian military (The Free Syrian Army) are cooperating coordinating with each other and there is a fundamental tacit alliance between the two nations for their war against ISIS. Syria has also stepped up its attacks on other rebel groups to dissipate and dissuade any further recruits to the ISIS or any new jihadist organizations from forming. Turkey Turkey, initially maintained a “more indefinite” stance towards ISIS while condemning its actions; which came out on the contrary to the US side. The Obama administration is pressing the Turkish government either to send ground troops across the border to break the siege of Kobani, or to allow armed Turkish, Syrian and Iraqi Kurds to come to the defence of the town. Despite increasing pressure from the United States and its allies, as well as its own Kurdish population, Turkey does not want to get heavily militarily involved in the fight. Turkey has also made it clear that the outcome of the war against ISIS should involve the toppling of the Assad regime as previously mentioned they believe it majorly responsible in the creation of ISIS. Conclusion Islamic jihadists such as the ISIS can be prevented from recruiting our children, this issue can only be tackled by addressing the world on falsehoods ISIS spreads about Islam. Education plays a crucial role here. Education spreads the correct meaning of Islam and it gives a way to follow a path, a collective faith that organizations such as Organizations of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which was formed to give collective voice. The youths that are recruited by the ISIS are disillusioned; correcting misconceptions serve to resolve the dis-information about Islam in the public will eventually put an end to the misinterpretations from spreading.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
About the Author Anant Mishra is a former Youth Representative to United Nations. He has served in numerous committees including United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC). He is an Associate Member of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi.

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