She shares photos of her wedding day; her new husband gazing down at her in a white dress. She talks about the moment they met and how her heart raced as their eyes made contact. She posts sunsets, flowers and couples in love and she talks of happiness, purpose and contentment with her life and her husband. She could be the heroine of a dozen Chick Lit happy endings, but she isn’t. She’s a Muhajirah, a Jihadi bride, and she and her ‘sisters’ are grooming your daughters.
As someone with a background in Internet safety, the word ‘grooming’ always evoked thoughts of adults (pre-dominantly men), preying upon children for sexual purposes but in the last few years I’ve had to broaden that definition to include grooming by extremists and terrorist organisations. They prey upon often vulnerable or disenfranchised young people in Western countries; young people who have perhaps suffered some instances of racial or religious prejudice and who yearn for a feeling of belonging somewhere.
It’s now common to see images of posturing young men in the media who have been tempted to leave their Western life in search of glory and Jannah (paradise) in the chaos of Syria. But this International Women’s Day I’d like to move the spotlight to the young Muslim women of the West who are increasingly being groomed by Muhajirah.
This activity is not hidden; it is there in plain view for anyone who cares to look on popular social media or blogging sites. One popular destination site has Jihadis willing and able to answer any question a curious young woman may have.
“Is it necessary for a sister to marry once she gets there?” asks one young woman. The answer is no, but doing so will benefit future generations. “Would they be looked after by ISIS?” asks another who is considering making the trip with a group of friends. “Yes, everything for them is taken care” is the reply. One young woman is worried about what support is available when she gets there and is assured that there will be Muhajirah already there to look after her and that if she wishes to marry the lack of parental consent won’t matter as she’ll be appointed a Wali (a male custodian who can give permission to marry.) Another young woman says she plans to study nursing before she comes to help and asks if that is a good plan. She is warned of studying in Western mixed sex environments and about the bad moral position of getting a study loan that has interest. Over and over the message is reinforced; it is the duty of these young women as true Muslims to make the journey and that if they do they will find support from their ‘sisters’, a community, purpose, a husband, family and, most of all, that they will be serving Allah in the best way possible for a woman.
Crisp specialises in profiling behaviour so this is a phenomenon that is of great interest to us and it’s also led us to question what more the Internet industry can do to prevent this sort of grooming. The answer is to be more proactive and not rely heavily on user reporting because generally, by the time a situation becomes grave enough for concerned onlookers to report, it’s already gone too far for the victim. Our advice to the industry is to nip this radicalisation of our young people in the bud – to profile the behaviour when it first starts and to report to authorities before it gets to the stage we’re seeing now where young women have moved on from the desire to go and are sharing the minutiae of their travel arrangements. It may not be a legal obligation to take such preventative measures, but surely there is a moral obligation to the Muslim families of the West to at least try and stop their daughters, sisters and friends falling prey to these brides of Jihad.