Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: The Rapid Spread of ISIS | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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This undated file picture shows some of the children recruited by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

One of the differences between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) lies in the way members join each of these ultra-radical groups.

Those wishing to join Al-Qaeda are often exposed for a long period of time to the writings of the group’s ideologues. The process would take several years before recruits are no longer content with the mission of merely calling for “jihad.”

However, with ISIS recruitment is much easier—but more dangerous. An ISIS member could be someone who had no Islamist links weeks or even a few days before joining the radical group. An ISIS recruit could be a normal youth who supports, say, Real Madrid or FC Barcelona, or a fan of pop stars. Such recruits usually go unnoticed by state security until they detonate themselves or engage in a shooting spree, taking by surprise official bodies who fail to predict their activities, particularly what they say on social media.

Two such examples are Seifeddine Rezgui, the Tunisian criminal who carried out the Sousse beach massacre, and Fahd Suleiman Abdul Mohsen Al-Qaba’a, the 23-year-old Saudi national who attacked the Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait.

Rafik Chelli, senior Tunisian security official, said the perpetrator of the Sousse attack was a university student who “had no criminal record.” The Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement that Qaba’a was born in 1992 and was not previously involved in any terror-related activities.

This means that ISIS poses a hidden danger whose elimination requires from all those concerned, whether governmental or civilian organizations, in Muslim and non-Muslim countries to take preemptive measures against potential ISIS members.

How can this be achieved while these murderers continue to escape the state radar?

One solution is to split potential murderers into two groups: those under state surveillance, and those who have escaped the state radar. As for the former group, governments should step up monitoring and restrictions on their movements.

One way of dealing with the latter group may be to increase the online monitoring of the writings and activities of the ideologues of terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Al-Nusra Front, in addition to holding those authors accountable. While this would not completely eliminate the spread of ISIS and Al-Qaeda and their culture of killing and takfirism (declaring people infidels), it would swiftly and firmly counter the threats they pose.

ISIS poses a threat to the entire world and thus could be one of the rare causes that lead to the unification of global policies.

Every day that passes without encircling the culture that has produced ISIS and Al-Qaeda brings the world a step closer to annihilation.