Why Some Join the Islamic State

Over the past year the world has watched the Middle East be torn apart by the Islamic State. As we very well know people seem to be flocking to the middle east to take up arms with ISIS from other parts of the Middle East as well as even the U.S.. The question then is ‘why would people leave their lives behind to take up arms with these seventh century throwbacks?’

You will of course here many explanations for the problem such as ‘they are all mentally ill’ or ‘lack of opportunity leaves them no choice but to join’ both of which are laughable. The root reason why people join the Islamic State may very well be different for each person who joins. One captured ISIS member during an interview said that joining the group was the only option he had to provide for his family and that the lack of opportunity was a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq says Lydia Wilson who conducted the interview. Another study surveyed 250 different fighters from various groups and asked them what there reason was for joining the their prospective group, the results concluded that Islamists unanimously claimed to support their cause, though it is suspected they felt the pressure to over state their own religiosity. An even more disturbing reason for joining the group given by Rukmini Callimachi in her New York Times article is that the Islamic State lures men from deeply conservative Muslim societies with there slave market of young women.

Whatever the reason is for people to join the Islamic State it is clear that they have been able to target many groups of people and convince them that joining the group will benefit them in some particular way. I think it is evident that if we want to beat ISIS we need to understand who and how they are recruiting, because no matter what the reason is for joining the end result is massive loss of life.

Here I have linked the graph showing the results of the survey mentioned previously.


8 thoughts on “Why Some Join the Islamic State

  1. The graph you used in this was very eye opening for me. I had always believed that the majority of the people joining did so out of fear. I am sure the results vary depending on what you look at it but it is shocking to see so many different point of views on this. If you could make some sort of suggestion as to how we would find out their methods of recruiting what would it be? Also do you think there is more that we should do to decrease the number of recruits?


  2. Thanks for interesting post! I mainly agree with your idea that we have to understand how and whom ISIS recruits as soldiers. What I can offer about this topic is that their strategy for recruiting is really sophisticated. For example, they are adept at using SNS to advertise their ideas. In fact, some people living in all over the world have come to ISIS as foreign soldiers. As the writer also mentioned in the post, ISIS members could focus on the conservative aspects in society that some Islamic States have and allure the man with slavery markets to join them. I personally think ISIS could be really a strong opponent for the west countries although it is the only one of the major groups in the Middle East now.


  3. Thank you for this post, I found it to be very interesting and eye opening. I think like you said it is very easy for people to assume a black and white reason, or unifying ideology behind why people join terrorists groups. In a way I think that these findings, and those expressed in the graph shed some true light on the reasons why people may join ISIS. I also believe that this can also be hopeful, meaning that since the ties to ISIS are not necessarily based strictly on an ideology that all members truly adhere to, that perhaps ISIS can be weakened from the inside somehow. If the members come to realize that they do not believe in the ideology that ISIS is adhering to, and they no longer feel afraid to stand up to the pressure from ISIS to adhere to it, then ISIS as a group cannot long survive. I also agree that a lot of attention should be paid to how ISIS is recruiting people, and the reasons that are drawing people in.


  4. Great post! I think that the reason(s) individuals join the Islamic State is multidimensional in nature, being a compilation of political, economic, social, cultural, and religious factors; however, I am glad that you mentioned sex slavery as an element in the appeal of the Islamic State to radicalized Muslim men, in particular, because it is an issue that is rarely focused on in the media, as well as a significant component to the refugee crisis and the plight of women and girls in IS occupied territory. The Islamic State has established a transnational bureaucracy of sex slavery that includes sales contracts which have been notarized by IS courts. Islamic State sex slavery is characterized by a vast human trafficking network and infrastructure throughout the Middle East which has disproportionately affected the Yazidi women and girls of Iraq. Below is a New York Times article on the subject – http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/14/world/middleeast/isis-enshrines-a-theology-of-rape.html?_r=0


  5. I also shocked about the reason of joining to the Islamic State. Anybody cannot discriminate on the people who should join to the Terrorist groups. There are many structural and cultural reasons that should understand by different point of views. It is very ironic that Terrorist groups’ behaviors deserved to be condemned but not on the people themselves.


  6. If there is one thing ISIS knows how to do is recruit. Unfortunately they seem to know how to exploit people they are targeting and give them a reason to fight. This signifies a possible long road of warfare between the U.S. & allies and ISIS. This information could possibly be key for determining how they recruit and how to use it against them. This is a very interesting post and could serve as a strategic piece of information on how to end the terror that ISIS brings to the Middle East


  7. I really really enjoyed this post you made. The topic revolving around terrorism and the motives behind joining the cause is rather controversial to some and very interesting. I am taking a history course on the War on Terror and through my own research for a project I came across a book that tells of a journalist who travels the middle east prior to the events of 9/11 and he enters a “terror academy” a school that teaches young arabs skills of warfare and terror tactics and they all had a common hatred of western culture and values and anything related to imperialism, capitalism, and zionism. I like how to contrasted the topic to our class discussions as well, how the captured member only joined for his family and lack of other opportunity. They seem to deliberately target and grow in poorer parts of the world promising new recruits compensation and opportunity for the glory of whatever religious or idealogical motives they may have. Very Interesting!


  8. I read an article that said that one of the reasons that people join ISIS is similar to reasons people join cults- for a sense of solidarity, identity and a brotherhood or sisterhood. Perhaps ISIS is attractive not only to the violent, but to those who feel misplaced.


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