Four reasons cited why people join ISIS – Dr. Speckhard

By Mohammad Saifullah

GOMBAK 21 July 2017: Four reasons have been cited as to why people are attracted to join ISIS: Firstly, the sense of belonging to a group;  secondly, the ideology to become part of a strange group; thirdly, individual interest; and finally, the social support by the social media.

The Director of International Centre for the Study of Violent Extremism, USA, Dr. Anne Speckhard, shared her experience with participants at a talk on “ISIS Terrorism and Social Media” in IIUM on Tuesday (18 July).

ISIS, an acronym that stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is a terrorist organisation that has made the world think about them as they are creating one after another attack throughout the world. From Syria to Turkey, and from Paris to London, capital cities of the world have been under attack by the group which have caused many innocent lives.

“Now it’s really a matter of concern as to how and why people joined ISIS, even children under the age of seven,” Dr. Speckhard said.

Dr. Anne Speckhard, who was the keynote speaker at the seminar, delivered her talk on the topic “Breaking the ISIS Brand: Trajectories into and back out of terrorism, and the social media recruiting of ISIS”.

She shared her experience on the topic and highlighted how and why people joined ISIS. According to her, social support is much more organised for ISIS to recruit its members and “there are four things that are related to recruitment of members for ISIS.”

She said that social media is a big weapon for ISIS to continue their activities throughout the world. “They can easily communicate with their members. For example, one member in London, others maybe in the Middle East and some others can be in Asia, but they can communicate with each other and easily plan and recruit members.”

Dr. Anne Speckhard and her centre work and do research on ex-ISIS members. They interviewed the ex-ISIS members from different countries who had left their organisation. According to Dr. Anne Speckhard, most of the people joined ISIS for money.

During her speech, Dr. Speckhard showed a video recording on interviews carried out with ex-ISIS members where they shared the reasons behind joining ISIS. The video also depicted the worst life in ISIS. All of them asked the people to leave ISIS and said that ISIS is not for Islam but they are misinterpreting Islam by killing innocent people, which is totally against all religions.

Lecturers from the departments of political science, history and communication who were present at the seminar, also shared information on the topic. The session was an interesting one as the audiences had asked many questions and the speaker responded giving her explanation on the situation.

The talk was organised by the Department of Political Science in collaboration with the Centre for Malay World and Ottoman Studies and the Embassy of the United States of America in Malaysia. ***

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