The Islamic State has been constantly growing in force and number since their first emergence. Social media has been a major factor in the recruiting of new members, and recently there have been hundreds of French youths, particularly females, joining ISIS. The new onslaught of young women leaving home for ISIS came as a shock to their families and French officials. However, those back in France did not receive as large a shock as those French youth now in Syria.
ISIS has been utilizing the power and span of social media to lure new female recruits to Syria. So far, there has been a Facebook connection between the young French women and an ISIS member in each of the identified new members. The Guardian Liberty Voice believes that the lure of ISIS for the French youth is a fantasy; ISIS members make promises that the women will be loved by a husband from the group, taken care of by the community, and receive some type of compensation for any children they bear. One French woman, Sahra Ali Mehenni, left her home when she was 18. Sahra had reportedly withdrew from her family into her room, where she had access to a computer. The Huffington Post reports she had isolated herself for nearly six months before her family was able to convince her to go to school. A few weeks later she asked her mother to help her get her passport, and then on March 11 she left for Syria. Shortly after her arrival, Sahra was married to a 25 year old man. Sahra has been able to speak to her parents since her arrival in Syria, but they feel her dialogue is being scripted by ISIS. However, Sahra insists she is happy and leading the same life as she once had in France.
Despite Sahra and other women’s insistence they are happy, a woman who escaped from ISIS described the tragedies she experienced while being an ISIS member. The woman now calls herself Khadija to protect herself; she originally joined ISIS after meeting and talking with a member online. He convinced her to join an all-female ISIS group, where she was responsible for making sure other women on the street were wearing the correct loose fitting Islamic garb. But Khadija witnessed extreme brutalities: she watched the crucifixion of a young boy, oversaw countless women whipped for minor discrepancies in their clothing, and shuddered at the extreme sexual abuse she knew she could not escape. The promise of a life filled with meaning and love deteriorated in front of her, and Khadija escaped just before she was to be married off to a man different than the one she met online.
Cunning lies and abuse to young women is another atrocity to be added to ISIS’s list. Numerous young French women have joined ISIS looking for the love, honor and heroism they were promised, but if Khadija’s account was true, the women are experiencing a horrific surprise.
Sources: CNN, Huffington Post, Newser.com, GuardianLV.com