ISIS Propaganda Entices American Teenagers to Syria

Three teenage girls from Denver were recently detained in Frankfurt on their way to Syria. Their parents alerted the police of their absence, after they found a substantial amount of cash and passports missing from their homes. U.S. authorities were able to track them down and in conjunction with German police they were sent back to the United States. It is clear that their intention was to reach Syria and join ISIS. ISIS propaganda allegedly convinced them to come to Syria, promising husbands, homes and security. Within the article, Mia Bloom, a security studies professor described it as, “Disney-like versions of what it is like to live in the caliphate.” The girls were of Somalis and Sudanese descent, countries where the majority adheres to Islam; however it was unclear if the girls themselves were Muslim.

ISIS recruitment of westerners has become quite common through their extensive use of social media. There have been numerous cases of young westerners attempting to join ISIS or plan ISIS sponsored terrorist attacks. Recently, a young woman in Denver attempted to join ISIS in Syria, to marry a member of ISIS she had met online. The use of social media allows for quick and efficient dissemination of propaganda, used to convert and encourage religious radicalism. Not only is the propaganda used to recruit but also to insight fear and terror. It fulfills nearly every aspect discussed in class to define propaganda. It is organized, uses specific communication methods, religious myth and creates and maintains a religious movement.

I really think it is despicable that much of the propaganda is aimed at youth. At an impressionable and vulnerable point in their life, youth should not be a target for radicalization. Much like cyber bullying, the use of social media allows terrorists to hide behind the guise of the Internet. Unfortunately, in today’s technological age social media is incredibly accessible and often poorly regulated and monitored. Our youth must be protected from radicalization and the FBI works with local Muslim communities to identify young people at risk for radicalization.

The threat of ISIS propaganda has become palpable with the recent attacks in Canada. Attacks occurring on home soil are personal and rock the core of our nation. There were numerous responses on social media to the attacks from ISIS supporters. They mocked the cancellation of hockey games, soldiers being targeted in uniform and the response of politicians. However, there were numerous responses by Canadian politicians stating that Canadians would not be intimidated, opposing parties standing in solidarity. There was an outpouring of support across Canada and the world, as numerous world leaders condemned the heinous crimes committed.



The article can be found here:


3 thoughts on “ISIS Propaganda Entices American Teenagers to Syria

  1. The Islamic state’s usage of propaganda is the most effective in recent history. ISIS has used different communication tools through the genre of magazines, social media and documentary to manipulate people into joining their cause. They have relied heavily on social media to spread their propagandist message as it is easily accessible to people around the world. Its effect is powerful as seen with the case of the three young Denver women as example of the drove of western youth going to Syria to join ISIS. ISIS propaganda has effectively defined the Western democratic countries and non-Muslims as the enemy. This as resulted in young western Muslims leaving their countries to fight for the “good cause” and carry out terrorist attacks on their home soil. I agree with the author that, “it is despicable that much of the propaganda is aimed at youth. At an impressionable and vulnerable point in their life.” The religious ideology touted by ISIS gives these youths what Marxists call false consciousness. The propaganda shows its positive characteristics, and this gives the youth a source of outlet from their bad situations. These girls and youth thought if they turn to religion or the Islamic state radicalized religion they will be less oppressive without realizing that religion in of it-self is oppressive. False consciousness of having a purpose in life as suggested by the propaganda prevents the girls and others from seeing the real situation. The real situation which involves rape and beheading as sources of oppression to those who and did not adhere to their ideology. We have seen cases ( in which young jihadists have become disillusioned and requesting to return to their home countries. I think it is a good thing that these girls were “rescued” before getting to Syria. Their situation might have been like the disillusioned jihadists who thought they are going to a false world as promised by the propaganda and not the reality they faced.

  2. RS

    It is very interesting to see how the use of propaganda has evolved since the times of Hitler and his Nazi Regime. Hitler implemented propaganda in forms of marketing (billboards and posters) and public speeches, but nowadays there are countless forms of spreading propaganda. I feel that this generation of youth is severely vulnerable to propaganda since these propagandists can contact anyone across the world through many outlets. In todays world there are tons of different methods of communication. Whether through text message, Facebook, Skype, Whatsapp, the list goes on. I believe users of these applications are simply too infatuated with the pros of the technological era that we are blinded by the potential negatives. This is very scary to think about since these terrorists are basically entering our homes with their propaganda by reaching out to people on their mobile phones, laptops and computers. Twisting the minds of the youth and tricking them to turn on their country as well as leave their family behind. That is a great indication of the potential conflicts that the new technological era has. Young adults are extremely vulnerable during their developmental years towards these terrorists and something should be done to abolish these online terrorists. This is a big issue that needs to be solved. A difficult task for sure but it will be interesting to see what actions will be taken by the Government of America to prevent these particular problems in the near future.

  3. ISIS Propaganda Entices American Teenager to Syria
    It is quite evident that many mosques and Islamic organizations will support governments in their attempts to stop violent terrorist plots and attacks by radical Muslims, but this is clearing not enough to solve the problem. Throughout history there have been extremists in all great religions and this should be considered in solving our current situation with Islamic radicals.
    Some of these young men have been radicalized at their mosques and some have turned to internet communities. Whatever manner in which these individuals have chosen to associate and collaborate, it is imperative to understand why they have chosen such violent measures in the name of religion. If we look at history, we can not only see why individuals and possibly organized groups have committed such crimes, but we can also look at possible solutions to averting future tragedies. In the past Christian and Jewish communities have expelled known terrorists from their communities.
    It is not enough that most Canadian and American Muslims want the violence to end, but they must take part in the take down of such violent organizations that claim to take on their name. There needs to be a worldwide movement to take back Islam and restore it to its original status of true peace. This would require the educating of Muslim youth around the world into understanding the true preaching of their religion, not the translations of extremists.
    It is important that young Canadian and American Muslims realize that their first allegiance should be to the country in which they reside. Muslim youth need to be made aware of this by their religious communities. Muslim communities need to ensure that their youth are more involved in public communities and organizations so that they don’t consider their brotherhood to be separate from their Canadian communities. This would create the awareness needed to ensure that radicals would be turned in by Muslim communities that they might try to shield themselves with.

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