Security forces in the town of Tameer, 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 banner of jihad. The townspeople sent letters to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz on the matter and informed security forces about eight people they believe lured their sons into leaving the country to join the 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 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 their 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 young man’s father said he wanted to cry when he saw the video. He also said that his son, Nasser, who was a medical 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 Tameer to the Welsh city of Cardiff, there is real fear and worry about those who abduct youths by brainwashing them and instilling extremist religious ideas into 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 Tameer spread hours before the Interior Ministry issued an official statement on the matter.
This is one of the few times we learned that the police were pursuing recruiters who had remained safe under the excuse that they are preachers and 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 recruiter, preventing 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 huge numbers since the war erupted in Syria three years ago. Due to its massive victories and its well-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 recruiters at schools who 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 video inciting others. The grieving father said his sons didn’t socialize with other people, but he didn’t know that solitude can be 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.