From Saudi Arabia to the UK: They’re recruiting youths!

Due to its massive victories and its publicized battles, ISIS has become a power that attracts youths

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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These are three stories from small, isolated towns in three different countries. Security forces in the town of Tamir, north of Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, said they arrested eight citizens following appeals by locals to intervene and rid the town of them. The story is that more than 17 men from the town have disappeared and are believed to be fighting in Iraq and Syria with the terrorist organizations of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front. This is significant considering the town’s population is no more than 10,000. These men reportedly ended up fighting alongside ISIS after they were incited to travel outside Saudi Arabia to fight alongside terrorist groups under the slogan of jihad. The townspeople sent letters to the king on the matter and informed security forces about eight people whom they believe lured their sons into leaving the country to join terrorist organizations.

In a similar town in Jordan, citizens beat up a preacher at a mosque following Friday prayers because he called on them and on their sons to fight alongside ISIS. The police had to intervene to save him but he was later arrested on charges of incitement.
In the Welsh city of Cardiff, a Muslim family was shocked when one of its sons appeared in an ISIS video talking about the virtues of jihad and urging viewers to join the organization in Syria and Iraq. Talking to BBC television, the father said he wanted to cry when he saw the video. He also said that his son, Nasser, who was a medical school student, disappeared in November. He added that his younger son Aseel, who is 17 years old, also disappeared in February.

From the Saudi town of Tamir to the Welsh city of Cardiff, there is real fear and worry about inciters and about those who abduct youths by brainwashing them and instilling extremist religious ideas in them. Most of this incitement is practiced publicly at mosques and schools. But we can now say that the results of raising awareness of such incitement has begun to make its mark. News of the arrest of the inciters in Tamir spread hours before the Interior Ministry issued an official statement on the matter.

Due to its massive victories and its publicized battles, ISIS has become a power that attracts youths

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

This is one of the few times we learned that the police is pursuing inciters who had remained safe under the excuse that they are preachers and that they are preaching on the subject of jihad. It seems that citizens have become more aware than the government, and even braver, with regards to pursuing extremists. In Jordan, citizens did not wait for the police to arrive but took matters into their own hands and disciplined the inciter and prevented him from resuming his sermon. Jordan is in a high state of alert as ISIS is close, having gained strongholds in Iraq. There are also fears that ISIS may infiltrate the ranks of frustrated Syrian refugees who have been residing in Jordan in droves since the war erupted in Syria three years ago. Due to its massive victories and its publicized battles, ISIS has become a power that attracts youths. The incident in which Jordanian citizens beat up the extremist preacher reflects their fear for their children, particularly after learning that several preachers were behind the disappearance of many young men.

It is not only preachers at mosques or inciters at schools that cause fear. Online media outlets play the biggest role, and we can ascertain this from the story of the British Muslim family who did not know the fate of their son until he appeared in that inciting video. The grieving father said his sons didn’t socialize with others, but he didn’t know that solitude was worse than bad company as terrorist groups’ means of communication are more accessible on the Internet than they are in the city of Cardiff itself.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on August 28, 2014.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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