How ISIS picks its suicide bombers

Michael Weiss writes: “Suicide bomber is a choice,” said the man we’ll call Abu Khaled, stubbing out a Marlboro Red and lighting a new one. “When you join ISIS, during the clerical classes, they ask: ‘Who will be a martyr?’ People raise their hands, and they go off to a separate group.”

The number of recruits is declining, the former ISIS intelligence officer and trainer had told me here, on the shores of the Bosporus. But, at least in those indoctrination classes, there’s no want of young men looking for a quick trip to Paradise. “They keep volunteering,” said Abu Khaled.

In the wide world outside al-Dawla al-Islamiya, the Islamic State, we have caught occasional glimpses of these incendiary young zealots. There was, for instance, Jake Bilardi, a disaffected Australian 18-year-old, who, judging by the blog he left while still in Melbourne, made a rather seamless transition from Chomskyism to takfirism, before detonating himself at a checkpoint in Iraq.

Abu Abdullah al-Australi, as he went to his death in Ramadi, was convinced that he was carrying out a noble act of self-sacrifice, turning kamikaze for the caliphate. For him, jihad began at home. “The turning point in my ideological development,” he’d written, coincided with the “beginning of my complete hatred and opposition to the entire system Australia and the majority of the world was based upon. It was also the moment I realised that violent global revolution was necessary to eliminate this system of governance and that I would likely be killed in this struggle.” He was right about that last part, if not quite about how his fellow revolutionaries determined his use-value. [Continue reading…]

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