Scotland Yard is trying to have a fifty-page “how-to” manual published by ISIS for foreign recruits, teaching them how to slip past international authorities and hook up with the jihad in Syria, removed from the Internet. It’s not certain if the manual was read by the three Muslim girls who left their London homes to join the Islamic State, but they are prominently mentioned in the UK Guardian’s story about the Travel Guide of Terror: “On Tuesday, the Metropolitan police said it believed that Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, had entered Syria despite the tearful appeals of their families. The Muslims, who are thought to have been lured by jihadi propaganda, were on half-term break when they flew from Gatwick airport to Turkey, a common entry point to war-torn Syria.”
The ISIS manual “Hijrah to the Islamic State,” which is available in English, teaches recruits how to pack “vital belongings” for the journey to Syria, offers sex-specific travel options, and teaches the aspiring jihadi how to slip past Turkish authorities, as the three girls appear to have done.
The guide teaches that Turkish authorities are generally hostile to the Islamic State, although some cooperate out of fear — “the only reason [ISIS] members live in Turkey in some peace is because Turkey fears revenge attacks” — contrary to longstanding rumors that some Turkish officials have been voluntarily cooperating with the caliphate. The Guardian suggests the efforts of America and Europe to get Turkey more interested in sealing off its border with Syria might be bearing fruit.
The Turks, for their part, have complained about less-than-efficient communication with American and European agencies, and claim to have intercepted and deported over a thousand foreign nationals who tried to cross their border with Syria to join ISIS, while blocking 10,000 more prospective jihadis from entering Turkey at all. If these figures are accurate, it would mean Turkey has stopped nearly half of the foreigners who tried to join with the Islamic State.
Bridget Johnson at PJ Media offers more details about the ISIS travel guide: it advises recruits to keep their plans secret from family members, allaying suspicions by routing their travel through a European holiday destination instead of flying directly to Turkey. Hookups with ISIS agents in Turkey via Twitter are recommended, and financial aid for the journey is sometimes made available. The recruit is advised to avoid Turkish border guards and make a dash for Syria from the Turkish town of Akcakale, rather than trying to bluff their way through border checkpoints. If an encounter with the authorities proves unavoidable, there is advice on how to fool them by pretending to be a tourist.
There are also suggestions for what gear to bring along (clean underwear is emphasized) and an extensive list of recommended electronic devices to hold instructional materials, including an endorsement of solar chargers because the electricity doesn’t work very well in ISIS-controlled cities. (Maintaining reliable power would evidently involve “dirtying the Earth which belongs to Allah.”)
The book even features a bit of jihadi humor, such as an acknowledgement that female recruits to the terror state might faint when they learn they’re not supposed to pack a lot of clothes, and a recommendation to “be sure to take a breath of fresh air, ’cause that’s how sharia [Islamic law] feels like” when the freshly minted terrorist reaches ISIS turf. All that’s missing are Cinnabon coupons to help the pilgrim get through the airports.
The missing Muslim girls didn’t follow all of this advice — they flew directly to Turkey from Gatwick airport, for starters — but they seem to have gotten direct advice from a notorious female ISIS recruiter, Aqsa Mahmood, who fled from Glasgow to Syria in 2013 to marry a jihadi. This is a matter of some embarrassment to UK security, because as the BBC reports, they were supposed to be keeping a close eye on Mahmood, but they somehow missed her Internet communication with the schoolgirls. Also, the girls had been through a “counter-radicalization” program at their school, and were judged “no longer at risk.” It will not reassure other nervous families to know that a detailed e-book of instructions for running off to join ISIS is available for download.