Terror attacks: How terrorists recruit, radicalise youth

21112015C children•Internet is a market place where the supply of suicide warriors are in abundance

•Muslim youth who have lost their identities and lost control of their minds fall victims

Young Ahmadu John had a mission. It was as simple as touching two wires together. He had been promised heaven on earth. As he was told, there would be a blast, meant to obliterate the infidels, but God would spare him. He would be saved from hell fire and would be admitted into eternal bliss, he would become a martyr while his parents would be free from their abject poverty.

With all these promises, he was dressed and rigged with explosives beneath his shirt, the young boy, who was plucked from the streets of Borno, North East Nigeria a few months earlier was driven to his target area. Minutes before he was due to execute the attack, Ahmadu called his father and intimated him of all the promises including the meager money supposedly to lift his parent out of the overwhelming poverty. His father, declined, cried “No’ come back home!’, but it was too late.

That was the last interaction between him and his father before he was turned into a human bomb killing himself and several other innocent people. Ahmadu’s story is not unusual. In Nigeria and of course all over the world, terrorists have used a wave of young men and women as bombers basically because they are vulnerable and can easily be indoctrinated and brainwashed.

Remember the young Nigerian Umar Faruk AdulMutallab, who confessed to and was convicted of attempting to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day, 2009.

But how are they recruited and indoctrinated? Why do they succumb to various fables and misrepresentations to kill and maim innocent people all over the world? If it is true that poverty leads to ignorance and a possible factor what with those well-to-do who join terrorists in their dastard acts? In view of the recent Paris attacks by ISIS and their undying Boko Harram collaborators in Nigeria, Saturday Vanguard spoke with experts on the issue.

Brainwashing of weak minds

Sheikh AbdulWaheed Ajagbe, an Islamic and Arabic teacher said: “You know that religion was created to control the minds of the people. Today, with the help of technology, those who are educated twist the Quran to get and control the weak minded people. When you have a few educated people and a mass of the uneducated people in a given society, then there is trouble because the educated ones will use the power of what they know to exploit and control the uneducated and weak minded people.

“These weak minded and uneducated people are fed with one-sided propaganda or better still a wrong and misconceived notion by their leaders and the people they look up to. They will not question what they are being taught, neither will they use critical thinking. This leads to brainwashing. This is what the terrorists do irrespective of where they operate.

Internet as a tool

Religious extremists are increasingly turning to the internet to indoctrinate and radicalise young Muslims. One cannot underrate the power of the internet in corroding the minds of vulnerable youth. An Islamic scholar, disciplined and well behaved cleric told his story of how his only son absconded from home and a few weeks later, he sent a message home that he had gone to Syria and that his parents should not bother about him anymore. The cleric lamented that a few weeks before he absconded, he was found very busy with his computers so much that he had no time for his friends in the community.

Many other young chaps through the internet have been indoctrinated and turned to the battlefield. So, without a doubt, the Internet is the single most important venue for the radicalization of Islamic youth. Internet is a market place where the supply of suicide warriors are in abundance.

A security expert who craved anonymity said: “There are thousands of terrorism sites on the internet. You know them by their symbols. Some even hide their main objects, you get a link and with a single click, it will first take you to motivational sites to spur you. Another click and you’re at a site where you can download scripted talking points that could make one believe he has a justification for mass murder,” he explains.

Recently, it was reported that the Boko Harram recruited no fewer than 200 Cameroonians youths in Kolofata, a small border town in the Far North of the country as as base.

Not about religion

“These misfits do not actually have a religion. Terrorists think about power, they use the power to create fear in people. They want people to fear them, nothing more. So, it is not about religion, it is about self acclamation in the pursuit of personal aggrandisement. You will see children from age 10 carrying weapons already trained to torture prisoners, wearing suicide belts and chanting anti-Western songs.

For the same reason there are terrorists and bad people of every other faith. It is their choice and not a prescription of any religion. No religion permits suicide or killing of people unjustly. The body of any being is not even his property. It was given to him as a trust and it must be kept as such. He has no right to destroy it. Islam forbids all sorts of suicides, whether by bombing or silently killing oneself.

“…take not life, which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.” (Qur’an 6:151). Islam considers the life of every being as sacred and it does not matter which religion one belongs in upholding the sanctity of life as ordered by Allah. However, the sanctity of human life is accorded a special place.

The first and the foremost basic right of a human being is the right to live. The Glorious Qur’an further says: “…if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” (Qur’an 5:32)

Quest for personal notoriety

In their quest for personal notoriety, some people become deviants furthering their delusions of being martyrs in the community. Others as we gathered, react negatively though, to abuses and injustice by the state. When Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a street thug, beheaded an American businessman, he became a rock star over night.

Ustaz Ajagbe described this notion as tripe and rubbish. “The ultimate success of their mentor is to manipulate them and get them to do what he wants. Killing yourself and other innocent people is not in any way near the kind of martyr the Prophet described. Like I said earlier, they are being brainwashed.”

People become misguided and act in such a way because they are lost in their belief. Some Muslim youth who have lost their identities and lost control of their minds fall victims. They become tools in the hands of these extremists and fundamentalists. They are taught a very radical and misrepresentation of the Qur’an and Hadith and most often than not, they are sent on mission of no return killing other innocent people.

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