The problem with generalities is that they are only accurate until more specific information is determined. As is the case with ISIS, many generalizations have come to be inaccurate at best, or completely wrong at worst. This makes the job of police officials and intelligence agents more difficult as they try to sift through these generalities to the heart of the matter.
When ISIS recruiting documents were captured recently, they painted an increasingly different picture of the type of recruits that ISIS was receiving. Instead of ultra-radicalized Islamists, the people they recruited tended to be ignorant to Shariah law. On basic information sheet forms, the vast majority of recruits identified this ignorance when they were recruited.
Once recruited, new members would be shown propaganda videos and had touring imams that touted the benefits of martyrdom. This propaganda, coupled with the severing of all family contacts and loss of cellular devices resulted in easily shaped minds. 70% of recruits were identified as having only a “basic knowledge of Shariah.” Only 15% identified as having an advanced knowledge, with only five recruits identifying that they had memorized the Quran.
This knowledge is incredibly important to understand because it shapes the reality of those who are likely to be recruited into an extremist organization such as ISIS. Instead of radicalized people that could be identified by friends and family before they joined, it appears that most became radicalized after they had already departed.
Even recent major attacks follow this trend. The truck driver who killed 85 people in France was described, at best, as being indifferent to religion. Two British recruits even purchased the book “Islam for Dummies” prior to departing for Syria to join ISIS.
While this does not demonstrate that radical Islam does not exist, it does demonstrate that our concept of the type of people that are going to join ISIS is skewed. It shows that the people that we believe we should look the most closely at are not necessarily the people that are the most likely to join. The studies went further to find that those who have the highest level of understanding in Islam, were the least likely to be suicide bombers. This is possible because people put their names on the recruiting forms, so they can be correlated to attacks perpetrated.
Generalizations make for good discussion around the table because they permit us to sum up large discussions into simpler terms. When it comes to intelligence agencies and security forces, generalizations are limiting factors which limit our intellectual thought and ability to accurately identify the threats we deem are important.
The good news is that radical Islam is not the leading tool for recruiting new members into ISIS. The bad news is when it is not that simple, identification of a root cause is made that much more difficult. It comes back to the simple nature of reporting suspicious activities and actions to the appropriate authorities, and remaining vigilant against threats of all kinds, not just those that are reportedly joining ISIS.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.