Earlier this week we came across a news story from New Zealand, which we linked to from our Facebook page. This was the story of Karolina Dam, a mother who has been through the trauma of losing her son; after leaving home to join ISIS, he was killed in an air strike on the Syria-Turkey border. Her pain is something we at FAST have sadly come across on numerous occasions from talking to parents here in the U.K, and what really struck us this time was Karolina’s call for more to be done worldwide to tackle the increasing issue of what she has gone through.
While we do have a natural focus on reaching out to families in this country, the facts show that there have been incidents around the globe, and there are surely lessons to be learned so that we can all help each other. Like from authorities in Minnesota, United States, who believe that recent recruitment of young people is not linked straight to ISIS, but rather through friends and peers, who have direct access to vulnerable targets. If this is to become a widely used strategy, we must continue to encourage parents to take an interest in what their children are doing, who they are friends with, and be vigilant to spotting any alarm signals.
In Ceuta, a Spanish territory in North Africa, two local women turned “master recruiters” for ISIS – in particular focusing on social media contact. Using the issues the tiny enclave faces, such as poverty and unemployment, the pair targeted other young women through blogs, WhatsApp and Facebook. The lesson here is to realise the power of online, especially when a new generation of young adults are all experts from childhood.
Whilst the themes may be similar to stories from home, these issues highlight what is becoming an issue in many more countries; and the more we talk to each other, share experiences and pass on advice, the more chance we have of intercepting others, before they leave.