Australia has been conducting a strong push against terrorism, which began months ago with some general comments from officials who knew they had a problem, and it quickly developed into effective action. Part of the program involves preventing would-be jihadis, including teenagers, from fleeing the country and signing up with ISIS and other ugly crews in Iraq and Syria.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Australia has prevented some 230 suspected jihad recruits from boarding flights to the Middle East, an astounding number considering how small the Australian population is, relative to the United States.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott described ISIS as a death cult with a crack social media operation: “It is absolutely critical that the people of Australia appreciate that the death cult is reaching out to vulnerable and impressionable young people. The death cult is reaching out, seeking effectively to brainwash people online.”
ISIS has been posting step-by-step guides, teaching young people how to ditch their parents, arranging “vacations” in Turkey, and then slipping past Turkish border patrols to emigrate to jihadistan. They have an active support network to reel in recruits. Unfortunately, despite Australia’s counterterrorism success, some young people have still fallen into the Islamic State’s tentacles, including “Australian Muslim convert Jake Bilardi, 18, who flew from his hometown of Melbourne in August last year to join Islamic State fighters without alerting security agencies” and was subsequently killed in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq.
The Islamic State’s online outreach isn’t entirely geared at boys, either. The Melbourne Herald-Sun wrote on Tuesday about the widows of two Australian recruits, who died serving the Islamic State in Syria, launching a Twitter campaign to raise money for ISIS.
“The wife of Roxburgh Park’s Suhan Rahman, killed just last week, has tweeted images of herself and female friends dressed in full burqas, brandishing AK47 rifles and leaning on a BMW M5 with an IS flag draped over the bonnet,” reports the Herald-Sun. “The woman, who goes under the Twitter handle Umm Jihad, also boasts about the glitz and glamour of life with the Australian terrorists.”
It’s not all glitz and glamour, though, as the charming widow Rahman and her friend Zehra Duman also posted photos of their late husbands posing in combat fatigues with the severed head of a Syrian soldier. Tony Abbott is exactly right to call this a “death cult” and to avoid underestimating its recruiting abilities.