Monday, September 21, 2015

Defectors from the Islamic State

Thousands of young Muslim have left Europe to join the Islamic state. The good news is that many of them have fled back to Europe:
A small but growing number of defectors from the Islamic State are risking reprisals and imprisonment to speak out about their disillusionment with the extremist group, according to a research organization that tracks former and current militants.

The Islamic State considers defectors as apostates, and most of the hundreds thought to have left the group have gone into hiding.

But 58 defectors, nine of them from Western Europe and Australia, have gone public with their testimonies since last year, according to a report to be published Monday by the International Center for the Study for Radicalization at King’s College London.

According to the report, some of the defectors said they disapproved of the Islamic State’s hostility to other Sunni rebel groups that opposed President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and its indiscriminate killings of civilians and hostages. Others grew weary of what they saw as favoritism and mistreatment by commanders, or were disappointed that the life of a militant was far less exciting, or lucrative, than they had imagined. Two left after they found out that they had been selected as suicide bombers.
Really, the western way of life is better for most people. Many of us fear the appeal of fanaticism, revolution, and totalitarian rule, but we shouldn't.


G. Verloren said...

It hasn't been all that long since fanaticism, revolution, and totalitarian rule gripped the very heart of Europe and plunged the entire world into wars that would become the two worst human disasters of all recorded history.

Just because life within ISIS lacks appeal doesn't mean that fanaticism, revolution, and totalitarian rule cannot arise and succeed elsewhere in more favorable conditions.

(To be fair, though, revolution should really be excluded from the above list. Fanaticism and totalitarianism are almost instrinsically destructive and dangerous behaviors, but revolution can occur quite peaceably and constructively.)

Anonymous said...

I would agree that John's conclusion about fanaticism etc. is way too breezy. Fifty-eight defectors from one movement does not signal the disappearance of major social forms that have played huge roles in world history.

On the other hand, I would also say that those who worry that the phenomenon of people leaving the West to join ISIS signals some deep crisis in western values are being way too alarmist. Any civilization that has 100% adherence probably has something wrong with it.

John said...

Well, yes, I didn't mean that nobody prefers fanaticism over peace and prosperity. I simply meant that overall, the western world is offering the better deal. The number of Pakistanis alone who have moved to the west dwarfs the number of recruits to the Islamic State.