It is not a new phenomenon for Muslims in the West to travel to areas around the world to engage in jihad, however with the ongoing war in Syria and the recent announcement of the formation of a new caliphate by the terror group known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the practice is becoming more prevalent.
Gatestone Institute reports that there are now at “least twice as many young British Muslims who have gone to Syria to fight alongside ISIS and other such groups than there are fighting for Queen and country here in the British armed forces.”
A California man was arrested on July 2 before he could board a flight to Turkey where he eventually planned to go to Syria to fight with ISIS. The young man, Adam Dandach, also known as Fadi Fadi Dandach, graduated from an American high school only two years ago. He told investigators, “he would assist ISIS with anything that ISIS asked him to do, and that he believed the killing of U.S. soldiers are justified killings.” When his mother learned that he planned to travel to the Middle East, she hid his passport. He was arrested for lying on an application for a replacement passport. He claims he was more disappointed that he did not get to go to Syria to join the jihad than he was that he was arrested.
New Zealander, Mark John Taylor, burnt his New Zealand passport and claims to have already been involved in fighting for the rebels in Syria. His Facebook page displays his burnt New Zealand passport and declares that he is on a “one-way trip,” declaring his intentions to die as a soldier of Allah.
As of December 2013, the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR) estimated that up to 11,000 fighters from 74 nations had gone to Syria to fight. Over one quarter of these fighters are from Western countries, mostly from Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and Belgium. Although not as numerous, Australians, Canadians, and U.S. citizens have also joined the fighting.
Those joining with the jihadis are not limited to young men. Sabina Selimovic, 15, and Samra Kesinovic, 16 disappeared from their homes in Austria in April. At first it was believed that the young girls had also gone to fight in the conflict in Syria. However, it was later discovered the girls were not in Syria, but most likely in Turkey. School friends confirmed the girls had become radicalized after attending a local mosque in Vienna. Police believe that whoever helped them leave the country is manipulating their social media accounts to “turn them into pin-up girls for the call to join the civil war.”
Perhaps they were the inspiration for British twin girls, aged 16 that left their Manchester homes to travel to Syria to become jihadi brides. The girls, Salma and Zahra Halane, were among the top twenty students at their school. It is believed they may have followed their older brother who joined ISIS. The family, originally from Somalia have said they are “absolutely devastated.” It is believed the two girls and their older brother may have been radicalized over Internet forums.
Earlier this month, around 100 Muslim leaders from different Islamic theological backgrounds launched an appeal to young would-be British jihadists: “Don’t’ travel to fight in Syria and Iraq.” This call came as claims emerged that as many as three Al Qaeda instructors tutored by a master bomb-maker are believed to have gone to Syria to teach British and other Western jihadists how to make “stealth bombs.”
Frank Gaffney from the Center for Security Policy said, “What they learn there are the skill sets to bring the violence to us.”
Pray that radical terrorist teachings in mosques and through the Internet will be discovered and stopped by the authorities and appropriate leaders.
For Muslim families with children who are leaning toward becoming radicalized, ask God to intervene and give the parents His wisdom and strength in dealing with their particular situation in their family – stopping the flow of these young people into a life of jihad.
In many Western nations, the Muslim population is rapidly increasing yet they are not integrating into the Western society. Pray that Western Christians will not be fearful or allow the threat of terrorism to keep them from reaching out to Muslims in their nation and in their local community. Pray they will realize that Muslims are not the enemy, they are treasured by God and are His prize. Ask God to stir their hearts and reveal His unconditional love for them.