Image Courtesy: Daily Mail

The ISIS or Daesh is currently on a recruitment spree. Although Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have repeatedly denied the group’s presence in their respective geographic boundaries, the fact remains that its barbaric and archaic ideology is resonating with more and more Muslims across the globe. Let us explore the methods and tactics that have made the ISIS such a runaway success, as well as the factors that have allowed it to re-brand Islamic militancy in this age!

While the Taliban emerged in the mid-1990s, the ISIS is a relatively recent phenomenon coming to the forefront primarily in the past five years. The Taliban – who can be aptly termed ‘old style militants’ in comparison with the ISIS – initially targeted the poor, downtrodden and illiterate who did not have any hope or drive in their lives. The buzzword was justice.

The Taliban of Afghanistan initially recruited the poor, downtrodden and uneducated people.  They used ideological warfare and assurances of a rosy afterlife as their recruitment tactics. Similarly, around 2008 and 2009, a number of families living in refugee camps on the outskirts of Peshawar were easy prey for the Taliban. These men joined hands with the militant organization to avenge the deaths of their loved ones, who they lost in attacks by the Pakistan Armed forces and through US air strikes. Additionally, the Taliban recruits were offered a daily stipend which was something that would give these moneyless people financial freedom.  Rumors have also circulated that the families of the suicide bombers were promised life-long financial assistance. The radical Madrassah culture also thrived around the ideology of the Taliban, and it keeps doing so to date.

Islamic State uses very savvy and distinct recruitment methods to attract people from all around the world, thus labeling Taliban as archaic and old school.  Their media campaign is far more powerful, and their presence can be felt in all walks of life.  Case in point is the arrest of at least 6 men during 2015 in Pakistan. All of them are said to be in awe of, if not proven recruits of, the Islamic State.  These people came from good educational backgrounds and financially sound families. If we step outside Pakistan and take a look towards UK, the ISIS has inspired and recruited couples with children, young men and women in their teens as well as stay at home mothers. In India they have managed to recruit middle aged women, one of whom was recently caught in UAE, who ran recruitment campaigns through word of mouth as well as through the internet.

To attract younger people, the ISIS has successfully attached the catchphrase ‘coolness’ with its self-identity. The ISIS members in Europe have the afflictions of all normal young, cool people of this day and age. The first American ISIS member who got killed recently in Syria was an aspiring rapper called Douglas McArthur McCain.  McCain tweeted about smoking marijuana, and his friends described him as ‘a jokster’. Another aspiring rapper who is suspected of beheading American journalist James Foley, is a British man named Abdel Majed Abdel Barry, whose father was a senior Al-Qaeda member. The lyrics of his songs are filled with cursing and hate words. Bary and his fellow British kidnappers of the UK call themselves ‘The Beatles’.  One of them tweeted about his love for Krispy Kreme Donuts. Another, Abu Hussain Al Britani made a tweet in reference to the immensely popular online shooting game ‘Call of Duty’.  Yet another shared his photo on the internet where he was sporting a shirt with a Batman like image and a flag of Islamic State. 

The ISIS supporters often post memes which are humorous and sarcastic. During September 2015, all leading UK newspapers carried a story on Islamic State jihadist Omar Hussain. In his account which was shared on his online blog from Syria, he complained about his uncouth and unruly Arab colleagues who stole his shoes while he slept and took his mobile charger from him without asking on several occasions. The purpose of these attempts is to portray the terrorizing Islamic State as a humane, misjudged outfit which is being victimized by the negative propaganda of the media. 

According to The Clarion Project, in 2004 a British radical Islamist group called Soul Salah Crew released a rap music video titled ‘Dirty Kuffar’. The track was remixed and distributed by terrorist sympathizers all around the world.  It was available at mosques in the US where young people were crowding up to buy it.

Another area which is considered by the Islamic State when they recruit in the West is that the person should be quite ignorant of all religions, so that he or she can be indoctrinated according to the ideology of ISIS. Recruitment is also being done in colleges under the guise of student groups. 

Al Jazeera quotes that ISIS has chosen the moniker Wilayat Khorasan (loosely translated it means the Khorasan Inheritance) for areas comprising of Pakistan, Afghanistan and some neighboring CIS countries. The precursor group of ISIS in Afghanistan, comprising mainly of disgruntled Pakistani Taliban, started making its presence felt in 2014, around the same time when Pakistan armed forces started Operation Zarb e Azab. The Afghan Taliban are facing a leadership crisis after the death of Mullah Omar, as their current leader faces opposition of the younger Taliban members. The situation thus becomes rife for the ISIS to add some of these brutal fighters with an itch to pull the trigger, into their flock. Here also, the branding of ISIS is done very professionally, with slick videos of beheadings, torture and massacres being used as their logo.

The presentation and presence of ISIS, from its cordial imaging, to its hip appeal to youngsters, to its glossy branding has provided the organizations with multiple opportunities to add future suicide bombers. The question is, are our governments savvy enough to identify their creative tactics? Are they doing enough to keep this beast at bay? Because that is all they can do now, as the monster is already rearing its ugly head amongst us.