later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole
where does it hurt?
~ Warsan Shire, a Somali-British poet (b. 1988)
THE END-TIMES BELIEFS OF ISIS
“The armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria . . . After its battle in Dabiq, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.”
Much of what [ISIS] does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.
The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.
To take one example: In September, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries such as France and Canada to find an infidel and “smash his head with a rock,” poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops.” To Western ears, the biblical-sounding punishments—the stoning and crop destruction—juxtaposed strangely with his more modern-sounding call to vehicular homicide. (As if to show that he could terrorize by imagery alone, Adnani also referred to Secretary of State John Kerry as an “uncircumcised geezer.”)
But Adnani was not merely talking trash. His speech was laced with theological and legal discussion, and his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone—unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar, or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.
Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.
According to Bernard Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.
Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”
If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it? Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”
“Enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam.”
The Islamic State has its share of worldly concerns (including, in the places it controls, collecting garbage and keeping the water running), but the End of Days is a leitmotif of its propaganda. During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world. McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were “talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions” based on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive. “Al-Qaeda had to write to [these leaders] to say ‘Cut it out.’ ”
For certain true believers—the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battles—visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need. Parts of the predictions are based on mainstream Sunni sources and appear all over the Islamic State’s propaganda. These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.
The Islamic State has attached great importance to the Syrian city of Dabiq, near Aleppo. It named its propaganda magazine after the town, and celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiq’s strategically unimportant plains. It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. The armies of Islam will meet them, and Dabiq will be Rome’s Waterloo or its Antietam.
“Dabiq is basically all farmland,” one Islamic State supporter recently tweeted. “You could imagine large battles taking place there.” The Islamic State’s propagandists drool with anticipation of this event, and constantly imply that it will come soon. The state’s magazine quotes Zarqawi as saying, “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify … until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.” A recent propaganda video shows clips from Hollywood war movies set in medieval times—perhaps because many of the prophecies specify that the armies will be on horseback or carrying ancient weapons.
Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. Western media frequently miss references to Dabiq in the Islamic State’s videos, and focus instead on lurid scenes of beheading. “Here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” said a masked executioner in a November video, showing the severed head of Peter (Abdul Rahman) Kassig, the aid worker who’d been held captive for more than a year. During fighting in Iraq in December, after mujahideen (perhaps inaccurately) reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts or hostesses upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who “Rome” is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey—the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely.
After its battle in Dabiq, Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.
One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic State’s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.
And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.
Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: “No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.”
Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet. “The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid,” Bernard Haykel says. That really would be an act of apostasy.
Within the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. [We should not underrate] the religious or intellectual appeal of ISIS. That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time."
Why Paris again? Because, apart from the fact of there existing a number of ISIS sleeper cells already firmly in place there, it is the city of lights, dedicated to the love of life like no other place on Earth — the ultimate symbol of the human love of life — and as such, it is especially antithetical to the ideology of anger and darkness premised on the love of death. ~ Mikhail Iossel
TERRORISM IS A LARGE-SCALE VERSION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Dr. Tawfik Hamid, author of INSIDE JIHAD, knows of young terrorists' dreams because he dreamed this way himself during his years of terrorist training.
Terrorism is a large-scale version of domestic violence. Terrorists treat populations the way domestic abusers treat their spouses and/or children. The abuser mentality in both cases makes domination a life goal.
ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haran and Hamas and other devotees of radical Islam dedicate their lives to Jihad, that is, to establishment of domination by Islam over all the world.
Dictators bully the citizens of their country.
Batterers bully their spouse and children.
Bullies on the playground are the school-age precursors of the same mentality.
Dictators, terrorists, domestic abusers and playground bullies all
Focus on controlling others
Are preoccupied with dominance
Regard their way as right and their target victim's differing ways as wrong
Begin with verbal abuse: harsh criticism, blame, baseless accusations, name-calling
Gradually escalate to physical violence
Can escalate to the point of murder
See their violence as justifiable and as a legitimate way to deal with differences
Show little to no insight into what is problematic in their behaviors or motivations
Rarely accept responsibility for their inappropriate behavior. For instance, their anger is always the other's fault: "I only did it because she/they…"
Tend toward paranoia, inappropriately distrusting others who are different, blaming their victims, and seeking scapegoats to blame for their own inadequacies.
Use projection, accusing those they attack for what they themselves in fact do.
The good news is that psychologists increasingly understand how to halt and even how to prevent domestic abuse. Now is the time to begin applying these lessons to halting terrorism.
First, strong police response and legal action keep domestic abusers in check. Police and military surveillance and reprisals will continue to be essential elements to combating Islamic terrorism.
Second, to prevent the development of abuse by parents/spouses in homes, by dictators in countries, and by terrorism internationally, families need skill training. Terrorists at all three levels have been shown to have serious deficits in skills for functioning as cooperative partners. When they want something they become violent in part because they have no idea of how to negotiate collaboratively or how to find win-win solutions. They know only domination or submission.
In addition, when potential victims are clear that bullying in all its forms is unacceptable, and especially when the surrounding culture agrees as well that abuse is unacceptable, victims become confident, which empowers them to more effectively fend off bullies.
1. PARENTING EDUCATION. Children who were abused are at increased risk for becoming abusers themselves. Abusing children teaches children that violence is normal, that dominance and submission are what people do. If globally, all parents were taught skills for positive, emotionally healthy parenting, the world would change. The violence of dictators and terrorism would no longer be tolerated.
2. PARTNERING EDUCATION. Many domestic abusers grew up in families in which parents modeled violence. Parents fought, or one parent verbally and physically beat up on the other. The victim stayed in the relationship instead of leaving or bringing in policing authorities. Children therefore grow up thinking that violence is normal. They also grew up lacking modeling of healthy communication in relationships.
Abuse is learned at home.
In cultures and countries that produce terrorists. e.g., the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, rates of domestic abuse are very high. Because the culture condones violence against women and children, laws against domestic and child abuse are non-existent. When a culture accepts violence as normal, families regard violence as normal, as an acceptable way to interact.
It is no wonder then that when some of these young men hear about Jihadists like those in ISIS, they regard beheaders, suicide bombers and men who enter a [public buiding] and start shooting people as superheroes.
In too many parts of the world, violence in the name of Jihad is being taught in religious schools and preached from mosques.
Countries that condone domestic violence and spawn terrorism also tend to be governed by dictatorships. The belief that dominating others via violence is a legitimate way to act pervades homes, the religious arena, and the behaviors of governments toward both their citizens and toward neighboring countries.
Peace also is learned at home.
In families where parenting and partner are cooperative, children grow up expecting relationships to be cooperative, at home at work and in their country. They also learn via parental modeling the skills the respectful talking and responsive listening skills that enable people to function collaboratively.
For people who grew up in homes where collaborative problem-solving skills were not modeled, resources like marriage self-help learning books and programs that tutor how to fix a relationship are increasingly accessible. These kinds of books and programs need to be translated and disseminated in areas of the Islamic world that currently are spawning Jihadist violence. Such a project is currently under way in Saudi Arabia, where my book on collaborative skills, Power of Two, is being translated into Arabic with added comments from the Qoran that legitimize it for Sharia observant readers.
An imam in a local Denver mosque who is aware of the high rates of domestic abuse and low rates of cooperative marriage relationship skills in his immigrant following has asked me personally for help teaching the couples in his mosque these skills. This trend also is a positive one.
Knowledgable Muslims abroad such as therapists and community leaders I have worked with from Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia similarly have told me of the dire needs of many their people to learn skills that would be antidotes to domestic violence. While these countries all have many families that function on the very highest level, a too-significant proportion of their populations desperately need collaborative marriage and parenting education.
Teaching people worldwide the skills for healthy collaborative interacting would cost next to nothing in this internet era. Our homeland security budget would barely grow by a blip if in addition to trying to capture and punish individual terrorists or use our military to slow the spread of ISIS, we focused on how to disseminate information about collaboration and cooperative ways of resolving differences.
The time has come to confront terrorism at its roots by addressing and changing the mentality of domination and violence that for too long has provided fertile ground for the spread of domestic violence, tyrannical governments, and terrorism.”
Oriana: Years ago I read elsewhere about the high rates of domestic abuse in many Islamic countries, but of course it was deemed politically incorrect and ignored.
IS THERE A PACIFIST MOVEMENT WITHIN ISLAM?
ISIS IS GROUNDED IN END-TIMES THEOLOGY
“Islam is a religion that preaches peace,” U.S. President Barack Obama told CBS last September, and likewise President George W. Bush’s mosque speech after 9-11 said “Islam is peace.” Yet there’s continual violence committed in the name of Islam. Analysts are abuzz over a major article in The Atlantic by Graeme Wood, who contends the bloodthirsty Islamic State Caliphate is thoroughly grounded in end-times theology and “governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers.” Wood cites especially the research of Princeton University’s Bernard Haykel.
“Jihad” is a duty of all believers but the term means simply “effort” or “struggle” in the faith. Teachers have called spiritual exertion the “greater jihad” and violent struggle, when necessary, the “lesser jihad.” As with Christianity’s “just war” concept, Muslim authorities have said the holy Quran allows warfare to defend Islam and its followers but forbids wars of aggression: “Fight for the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not be aggressive. Surely Allah does not like the aggressors. . . Drive them out from wherever they drove you out” (2:190-191). Of course, adherents of both religions haven’t necessarily honored such niceties.
TEACHINGS ON NOT HARMING NON-COMBATANTS
Mainstream imams cite this scripture on treatment of civilians: “Allah does not forbid you, regarding those who did not fight you and did not drive you out of your homes, to be generous to them and deal with them justly” (60:8). And they say this verse condemns forced conversions: “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). The authorities have said codified teachings of Muhammad (Hadith) said when conflict was justifiable protection was required for innocent non-combatants, the aged, children, women, Christian monks, people attending worship, and prisoners of war.
THE RISE OF VIOLENT ISLAMISM
Amid the general mayhem now afflicting the Muslim world, that venerable understanding of Islam is defied by a rising movement that’s attractive to a subset of young Muslims. It claims divine sanction to embrace thievery, torture, mutilation, terrorism, suicide bombing, kidnapping for ransom, sexual slavery, gruesome executions without trial, killing of envoys and guest aid workers, slaughter of worshippers and Jews and Christians, and of fellow Muslims who dissent from those who hold power or belong to rival factions.
In summary, the heritage now under assault does accept violence and warfare as morally justified in some circumstances, but can favor “peace” in the sense of negotiations between nations and social harmony within nations.
UNLIKE THE BUDDHA AND JESUS, MUHAMMAD WAS A MILITARY COMMANDER AND POLITICAL RULER, AND ARMED STRUGGLE HAS BEEN CONTINUAL THROUGH MUSLIM HISTORY.
Some religious believers say “peace” means God mandates strict non-violence or pacifism. Islam has a far weaker pacifist strain than other world religions, according to such scholars as Mark Juergensmeyer. Unlike the Buddha, Jesus, and other spiritual founders, Muhammad was a military commander and political ruler, and armed struggle has been continual through Muslim history. Since Islam recognizes no equivalent of “church-state separation,” military politics is bound up with religion and vice versa.
ISLAMIC PACIFIST MOVEMENT
Some individuals do reject violence in all circumstances. The U.S. has a Muslim Peace Fellowship, and Muslim-American attorney Arsalan Iftikhar wrote a book on “Islamic Pacifism.” A non-Muslim sociologist, New Zealand’s Malcolm Brown, thinks some Quran and Hadith texts “can reasonably be interpreted in pacifist terms.” Followers of mystical Sufi orders emphasize spiritual “jihad” to the near exclusion of war making. In the past Islam’s Shia branch tended toward military quiescence while awaiting the return of the Hidden Imam, but Iran’s violent Khomeini revolution pretty much extinguished that belief.
For pacifists, the good news is there’s one distinct branch of Islam that fully spurns violence. The bad news is that it’s branded heretical by mainstream Islam — not over pacifism but other problems. We’re talking about the Ahmadiyya community, headquartered in London. The small U.S. group has offices in Silver Spring, Maryland. This group claims some 15,000 mosques worldwide, and Oxford’s “World Christian Encyclopedia” counts 9.7 million adherents among the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims. However, the Ahmadis are very evangelistic and may be Islam’s fastest-growing faction. The largest concentration is in Pakistan, which brands it non-Muslim and imposes persecution.
The major issue is that founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) is believed to be the end-times Messiah or Mahdi or Imam of the Age mentioned by Muhammad, and the metaphorical Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Since his death, a succession of Caliphs have ruled the movement.
In a 1900 booklet Ahmad declared the following. Muhammad “never took up the sword against anyone except against those who first resorted to it.” The military retaliation of those days “was never meant to be a general rule” and “in this age the circumstances for that command do not exist.” Also, Muhammad said the coming Messiah “will put an end to wars” and Ahmad is that Messiah. “Now that the Promised Messiah has come it is the duty of every Muslim to abstain from jihad with the sword.”
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RADICALIZATION AND HOW TO FIGHT IT
First, during group discussion social comparisons are made. People find out what the opinions are of the other group members. And if it appears that the majority of people with whom you communicate, personally or via social media, is willing to take some risk - for example, travel to Syria - then you want to outdo them. The result is that you are becoming a little more extreme after each chat. A second possibility is that by discussing your dilemma with other people – who tend to be sympathizers - you are more likely to hear more arguments in favor than against. So after interactions with likeminded people a person gets increasingly convinced about the correctness of their risky choice. Other research shows that people indeed take more notice of the opinions of their peers. And the more a person identifies with their group the more prone they are to social influence. It is perhaps not surprising that much Muslim radicalization takes place in prisons where people are exposed to extreme views and deviant positions are absent. Thus the prison is a breeding ground for radicalization.
What can we do against radicalization? And what would an anti-radicalization program look like? The anti-terror coordinator of Europe, Gilles de Kerckhove, recently argued for a counteroffensive against the propaganda of IS. That‘s an excellent initiative because it is important that potential jihadists are confronted with other, more moderate opinions than what they get now through Facebook or Twitter. It is crucial to block this propaganda material from the internet. Also, it seems sensible to give a public platform to young Muslim sympathizers who have good reasons not to join IS. Better still: Why don’t we hear from former Jihadists who returned from the Middle East disappointedly and with much regret?
It might further help to be exposed to diverse opinions, because the more diverse a group is the less it is likely to polarize. When American students discussed their dilemma, first alone and then in a group, they radicalized. But when they discussed the same dilemma with a mix of American and Chinese students they became more cautious -- that's called a "cautious shift" in the decision-making literature.
Governments must ensure that potential Jihadists are confronted with the views of moderate Muslims such imams or opinion leaders from politics, sports, or music. If someone close to you radicalizes, don’t ignore it but start a discussion and ask uncomfortable questions.
Haiku for Paris
I can't imagine
a God who wants me
to kill you.
~ John Guzlowski
detoxifying with beauty
Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Bonito, 1941