2015-05-08 07:49

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria requires no introduction. This militant group who purports to promote the furtherance of Islam has made headlines far and wide and for the wrong reasons.

Recently there has been talk about ISIS recruitment in South Africa. An estimated 140 South Africans have reportedly joined the Islamic State (ISIS) insurgency to fight in Iraq and Syria, with at least three already killed in action. This was confirmed by Iraq’s ambassador to South Africa Dr Hushaim al-Alawi.

ISIS is actively recruiting South Africans in the country, and raising funds under the guise of humanitarian aid. ISIS recruitment involves “careful propaganda programmes using deception to recruit the country‘s youth to fight in a misguided war against the enemies of Islam”. The Youth in turn see this as an Opportunity and Platform to find their identity and blindly accept the invitation or “calling”. It is naïve to think South Africa is immune as we are part of a global community.

South Africa it seems, is attractive for ISIS recruitment for a number of reasons. South African Recruits seem more likely to come from average-income families, which reduces the financial burden their recruitment would otherwise pose. Most of the Recruits could therefore take care of their own travel arrangements, though some still require financial and technical support. Travelling on a South African passport does not raise immediate suspicion, which makes it easy for South Africans to book itineraries that would be less accessible to passport holders from other African countries.

Women have always played a role in war, if not in actual combat then in the vital areas of intelligence gathering, medical care, food preparation and support. ISIS’s vicious campaign to carve out a state ruled by a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law is no different, though it’s strict laws prohibiting mixing between genders has limited women’s presence on the front lines. Instead, women are drawn — or recruited — into vital support roles through effective social-media campaigns that promise devout jihadist husbands, a home in a true Islamic state and the opportunity to devote their lives to their religion and their God. To me, it seems that the girls/women accepting this invitation are misguided and led to believe in some fantasy of being the wife of a "martyr". (One can hardly call them that)

The mere fact that ISIS is recruiting young women goes against the very Shariah of Islam which strictly prohibits women travelling abroad on their own without a Mahram or Adult Male Guardian whom they are prohibited from marrying i.e. a women’s father, brother, grandfather etc. Furthermore, the allegation that ISIS seeks to promote the furtherance of Islam is questionable in that majority of the people that have been killed by ISIS were Muslim.

It is important to note that the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and related Activities Act 33 of 2004 prohibits South African citizens from committing terrorist acts domestically and in foreign countries. Individuals may be found guilty under the law for doing anything that could enhance the ability of any entity to engage in terrorist activities.

The Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act of 1998 further precludes any South African citizen from participating in armed conflict, nationally or internationally, except as provided for in the Constitution and National Legislation. Assistance to ISIS is particularly covered with reference to any action aimed at overthrowing a government, or undermining the Constitutional order, sovereignty or territorial integrity of a state.

A key challenge however, is the lack of systematic and full implementation of these Acts. It seems though, that after the incident of the young girl from Cape Town’s attempt to join ISIS, South Africa has taken a more active approach in pursuing possible recruits and preventing them from joining the Militant Group.

In conclusion, I urge each and every individual who is considering joining ISIS or know of people who have joined or intend to join this Terror Group to seriously reconsider your position and advise others to do the same. Not only is it illegal in our Country but is it really worth the price? Is the alleged sums of money offered and "promises" made by ISIS really worth losing a life, lives or loved ones? At the end of the day it is only the Almighty that is the ultimate decider of one’s fate and we shouldn’t be fooled and misled by people, yes people, who promise a “better life or better hereafter” and use merciless killing to achieve this.

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