The Road to ISIS

By: Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Mon 13 June / Jun 2016. 09:34 PM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Going back to Mahmoud Masharfeh’s profile, the conductor of the terrorist attack on the Baqaa Intelligence office, who by the way was born in 1989 not 1994, we would find that he was influenced early on by peers and friends, as well as some of the Islamic “clergy” (Sheikhs) in the vicinity. According to the BBC report, and one of his childhood friends, he took on the journey to religiosity at a relatively young age, and arrived at extremism upon his enrollment at university.

At the very beginning of his university education, Masharfeh decided to drop out of school, due to student gender admixture, even though he was passionate about electricity. Later on, in 2012, someone who’d just returned from the serving with the “Jaish Al Islam” in Gaza, convinced him to form a sell, and travel there to train and learn how to fight, in order to join the organisation, which was a known Qaeda-affiliate, ideologically, before he finally turned to ISIS.

On his way to Gaza, Mahmoud was apprehended on the Aqaba border, and locked at the Mwaqqar confinement facility. He went on a hunger strike for weeks, according to defence attorney Mousa Abdullat, before he was transferred to the Rmeimein prison, along with his crew of four. Afterwards, he was released, only to climb up yet another step on the ladder of fanaticism towards ISIS, in 2014, post the announcement of the Iraq and Levant State, and the claimed Caliphate.

Mahmoud then went underground for two years, before popping out of nowhere to land his strike against the Intelligence Directorate office in Baqaa.

This is the preliminary trace of Mahmoud’s journey, and there are still a variety of questions pending the results of investigation, or the issuance of a press statement scouped first by some American journalist, given his access to a multitude of vital information that we —Jordanian journalists and researchers— are denied, under the range of the “gag-order”!

The central idea here is that the typical set of answers, in regards to the factors behind the growth of ISIS over recent years, will usually comprise around the influence of the internet on youth. Such a statement, to say that the internet in some way is responsible, requires more thorough inspection and research. If Mohammad’s case is to be reviewed, in this respect, then the more concrete and direct factors were rooted in real life, not the virtual world of the internet. He was influenced first by neighbours, relatives, and friends.

Similarly, the case of the Irbid cell falls in line. Before promotion and ISIS recruitment channels found way to our youth, they were already oriented by the very same precursors; family relations, neighbours, and friends, who’d preceded them into ISIS or Nusra. There are many a tale on this to reinforce this particular piece of information.

Not to argue the efficiency and effectiveness of the internet, here, at all. But, as instrumental as it is in the conveyance and delivery of open as well as cyphered messages, and promotion; the truth is that the contents of ISIS and ilk messages did get through to the youth, convincingly, while the State’s, as well as efforts by foreign parties to counter these messages, failed, enormously.

Subsequently, this calls for more attention to be paid for the domestic community and the rising threat within; had there been no tendency and readiness for extremism and terrorism among the people, these messages would not have penetrated the minds of the youth and abducted their conscience. This hypothesis, or proposition; to focus on the internal issues, was adopted by many an important study published recently, like Scott Atran’s “Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists”, which traces the origins of many cells and jihadi movements, to arrive at an important conclusion; that it is the local community that produces extremism and terrorism, not the internet.

Therefore, we need to look within, for changes and shifts in society and youth, and re-explore our reality.