Why do people join ISIS?

A March report from Lebanon-based Quantum Communications cited by Defence One, identifies nine categories of ISIS recruits:

  • Status seekers: Intent on improving “their social standing” these people are driven primarily by money “and a certain recognition by others around them.”
  • Identity seekers: Prone to feeling isolated or alienated,these individuals “often feel like outsiders in their initial unfamiliar/unintelligible environment and seek to identify with another group.” Islam, for many of these provides “a pre-packaged transnational identity.”
  • Revenge seekers: They consider themselves part of a group that is being repressed by the West or someone else.
  • Redemption seekers: They joined ISIS because they believe it vindicates them, or ameliorates previous sinfulness.
  • Responsibility seekers: Basically, people who have joined or support ISIS because it provides some material or financial support for their family.
  • Thrill seekers: Joined ISIS for adventure.
  • Ideology seekers: These want to impose their view of Islam on others.
  • Justice seekers: They respond to what they perceive as injustice. The justice seekers’ ‘raison d’être’ ceases to exist once the perceived injustice stops,” the report says.
  • Death seekers: These people “have most probably suffered from a significant trauma/loss in their lives and consider death as the only way out with a reputation of martyr instead of someone who has committed suicide.”

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