In Russia, the struggle to un-recruit ISIS followers

The Daily Beast spoke to Sevil Navruzova, head of the Center for Countering Extremism in Dagestan, who spends her working hours on Skype interviewing Russian citizens who are fighting for ISIS: Most of the men and women interviewed each day by Navuzova and her staff say they are determined to die for their beliefs.

The “insane propaganda” on the Internet is the main source of information for the recruitment strategy of the so-called Islamic State, Navruzova said. Instructions tell them where to go and how to get the money for the trip.

Navruzova told The Daily Beast in a recent interview that some recruiters were local—Special Services had arrested at least two of them in the past two years, but that didn’t make a dent.

“The drain of youth is massive, it amounts to hundreds from Dagestan alone,” Navruzova said.

Young Russian Muslims watched videos of ISIS leaders and sheikhs calling to join the holy war. The travel package for a recruited Russian included an air ticket, $500 of pocket money and a backpack with T-shirts, socks and other basic needs.

“This is not just a popular trend, this is a lifestyle. Many in the Muslim community live day and night with the idea of joining the war, not for the sake of money but for pure hope to live for once in Sharia World. Recruiters say that the entire Muslim world has to be involved in the war now,” Navruzova said.

Male recruits are not the only ones who are leaving Russia. Women take off to join ISIS, too.

On the morning of February 27, Beke Gadzhiyeva, a 20-year-old from Derbent, seemed to be just another student at the local university, She had breakfast with her family, showing no sign of any plans to travel; a few hours later she was in a car driving across the Russian border to Azerbaijan. The last time she was seen was at Baku airport. “Somebody provided her with luggage,” said Navruzova, who now has to deal with Gadzhiyeva’s broken-hearted mother, looking for ways to bring her daughter back to Russia, “before she marries one of the fighters.”

It is one of Navruzova’s priorities to prevent widows of local insurgents from taking extreme actions against themselves or others, she said.

Nobody in ISIS has “zombified” the young Russian citizens, nobody offered them money: “On the contrary, insurgencies often recruit well-educated youths from wealthy, intelligent families,” says Navruzova. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email