Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Aqsa Mahmood: From Harry Potter Fan to ISIS Recruiter

How does a young girl who loves Harry Potter and Coldplay become a recruiter for ISIS? I have a theory.
Aqsa Mahmood
LONDON—To her family, Aqsa Mahmood was an intelligent and popular teenager who helped care for her three younger siblings and her grandparents at her home in Scotland. She listened to Coldplay, read Harry Potter novels and drank Irn Bru, a Scottish soft drink.

Though she aspired to be a pharmacist or a doctor, she left home in November 2013 to go to Syria, and the authorities now say she is one of the most active recruiters of young British women to join the Islamic State.

The authorities are investigating possible links between Mahmood, who goes by the name Umm Layth (meaning Mother of the Lion), and the disappearance last week of three teenagers from London. They, too, are believed to have traveled to Syria to join the terrorist group.

The apparent trend of studious, seemingly driven young women leaving home to join violent jihadis has become disturbingly familiar.

A Metropolitan Police official said Monday that one of the girls, Shamima Begum, sent a Twitter message to a woman on Feb. 15, a couple of days before they left Britain, but declined to disclose her name.

Experts who track jihadi activity online, including Audrey Alexander at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, in London, have identified that woman as Mahmood, 20, who left her home in Glasgow in November 2013. (Continue Reading.)


Mahsheed said...

So what is your theory? Sorry I missed it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mahsheed,

When I read "I've got a theory." I was assuming that David was just using a sort of rhetorical device. As if someone asks you "who drank all the milk?" and you know exactly who drank all the milk, but you say (with eyebrows raised) "I've got a theory."

I'm a Mum and hence very fluent in tongue-in-cheek!

I could be wrong, but that's how I've read it.



Could be wrong.



Anonymous said...

But back on topic...

There is a lot of motivation for these young girls to make these terrible decisions. Decisions that are often made when their hormones and brain development are going through significant stages of change.

This motivation can include:

1. IDENTITY - every teenage is searching to construct an identity, to set themselves apart from others, and especially their parents. This radical decision certainly sets them apart from their parents and their peers.

2. AFFIRMATION - these girls are going to face some horrific realities but for now they are feeling affirmed, needed and most importantly, wanted by someone (or something)

3. HEROICS - This is an opportunity for them to be on the level of Marvel's Avengers in the eyes of some Muslims. The pheromone and adrenaline rush of feeling they are prepared to die for a cause is very enticing. They stand for something! They have achieved something that their parents could not, even if they are killed.

4. SECURITY - Safety is at the top of our needs, and these girls will have been promised that they will be the Aisha's, this generations mother of Islam. If they survive, they and their offspring will be safe and revered in the new Islamic State. They believe that they will be at the top of the food chain when the devouring begins.

5. PURPOSE - Their lives now have meaning and raison d'etre.

Regardless these are still children, unprepared for the horrors that are ahead of them.

I am still surprised that any mother would send a message to her daughter in this situation, to say 'you have brought shame on us and on Islam'. How does any of that matter when your child is in the hands of monsters?

I will be praying that they get out before they are completely destroyed.

Mahsheed said...

Hi Paige,

Thanks for clarifying. I thought it was too good a question to be rhetorical and perhaps it got over-written.

Your answers make sense to me. The girl in the picture looked very nice and I'm sure she thinks she's doing good.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mahsheed,

My pleasure! I'm glad I could be of some small help.

You made a really good point that is, they the majority of these girls are not malevolent hell-raisers who pulled the wings of butterflies when they were young. They do indeed generally believe they are doing good.

It is of course over the definition of "good" that these young minds come unstuck.

God bless you Mahsheed!

mamlukman said...

Very sad, for everyone--her, her family, her friends, and for the world.

Girls this age are often searching for something, and all too many find it in a cult, sex and drinking, or in this case, ISIS. I don't want to blame the parents, but this should be a wake up call--and not just to Muslims, everyone--that if you have a 14-15 year old daughter, you need to talk to her about religion, the meaning of life, morality, etc. and point her in the direction of some goo movies and books. Don't let her be scooped up by some scam artists.