By: Deegan Mundy
I learned to shoot on my grandfather’s 410 shotgun.
My father would position me in front of a fence lined with Coke cans on our farm in Kentucky. When I look back at this image, it is a comfortable and familiar one. Afternoons spent with my father and my uncle on the farm. Now picture this: women making dinner, caring for children and drinking coffee outfitted with suicide belts and automatic rifles.
It is a very different image, and it is the one being portrayed to groups of Muslim women across the West as a means of recruiting these women to join radical Islamists in Iraq and Syria.
In the past few years, a trend has arisen that is just starting to be noticed. Using social media, online forums and even female recruiters, Islamist terrorist groups are painting this idealistic picture of terrorism to women across the West and convincing them to leave their homes in Austria, Britain, France, among other places, and voyage to the heart of battle.
I bring this up in response to an event that occurred over the weekend of October 18, where three teenage girls from the suburbs of Denver, Colorado took their passports from their homes, along with $2000, and began this very journey to join the Islamic State.
They were intercepted in Frankfurt, Germany by U.S. law enforcement but this occurrence got me thinking about how these young teenage girls, not much younger than the girls on my campus, could be convinced to leave their homes and do something as drastic as they attempted to do. Did they even realize what they were doing? Would they have actually gone through with it?
I guess we won’t find out the answer to either of those questions, but there are some questions that we can attempt to answer. What makes this specific group of people, Muslim women in places like Britain and France, so vulnerable to this sort of propaganda? Could it be the difficult struggle of Muslim alienation in the West? And how is it possible for recruiters to successfully construct these unrealistic images of woman fighting freely for a cause in Iraq or Syria?
I’m not sure, but I do know that having coffee with an automatic rifle casually slung across my shoulder does not sound like a great way to start my Sunday morning.