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Friday, February 27, 2015

The Jihadist Next Door

As the identity of the man leading ISIS came to the forefront yesterday, articles have been published stating that Mohammed Emwazi (also known as Jihadi John) was an extremely kind man. The 26 year old  from London was known as a kind, bright, charismatic individual and no one is quite sure why he joined ISIS. As I was watching BBC News, the British journalist reported that before Emwazi traveled to Syria, the British government was using him as an informant and he was going to help the British government. However, we see how that turned out. On social media it has been posted that he felt like a social outcast and different, so this was a way to show his power. Someone questioned: "Why? You were once such a bright and kind young man. What happened? Feeling different or like an outcast should serve as an inspiration to become stronger emotionally and mentally to rise above to do beautiful things with your life to help others, rather than hurt them."

This reminds me of an article I read in 2010 in the New York Times: The Jihadist Next Door. The Jihadist Next Door is an article about Omar Hammami and how he left Alabama to go to the Middle East to join a terrorist cell. He was from a conservative Christian town of Daphne, Alabama. Once an upbeat and vibrant boy, after 9/11 Hammami changed. He felt like a religious outcast in his hometown and didn't feel welcomed. So, he went the radical route. Definitely read the article because it's interesting. I remember being moved by it and I wrote a poem about it. The poem I wrote made it to publication in West Chester University's Literati (2010) and it's in one of the books I self-published:

Daphne’s Sweetheart
By Jessica Marie

I see your smirk,
Pasted innocently on your freckled face,
Teeth missing, little sweat drops, cheeks red
From the hot, May Mississippi sun;
Eating watermelon for hours with Southern flare.
Life wasn’t confusing then or was it?
Sweet little boy torn by Christian and Muslim,
Accepting the word of Christ,
Then living by the Koran and Arabic tongue.
Though, you’d be baptized by the cross.

I see your smirk,
Tormented by your beliefs,
Confusion by Jesus’, Muhammad and Darwin—
Your family doesn’t make it easy, drifting apart;
Yet you’re a bright friendly teenager—
Voted most popular, head of the class
And wondering why Murrah1 was bombed:
Wishing violence would vanish from the Earth.
Turning to your savior Jesus Christ for peace;
And putting yourself in the hands of Allah.

I see your smirk,
Telling your friends and classmates
“Turn to Islam, it’s the chosen way,”
Bowing to Mecca from the flag pole
As the crowd, confused, just stares.
September 11th crashes your whole world—
A Muslim couldn’t possibly have done this
While hiding behind your traditional garb.
Changing your name, provoking response
You drop out of school and on to the Salafis2.
They guide you to your next stage of life
With a wife and baby girl left behind.

I see your smirk,
On my TV screen
As I watch your video
With the Koran in your hand,
Advising your cohorts:
“The only reason we stay away from cities
And giving up our vices and lust
Because we are waiting for the enemy—
Death to America! For jihad!”

Through your smirk,
Your army follows your orders
With the same charisma you had in school
That won you class president and a popular girl.
With your charisma and cool
You lead the deadliest terrorist group
With the biggest smile and no confusion.
We sit and watch, baffled by you—
How could a sweet little lovable boy
Turn into someone so evil as you?

1  The Murrah Building was bombed by Timothy McVeigh on April 19, 1995 in Oklahoma City.
2  Salaf means “ancestor” in Arabic. Salafis believe in a strict return to the fundamentals of Islam and to purge practices by modern influences.

I'm not really sure why young people join these causes, but as I've said before... I think it's time to come together as a collective society to make sure young kids don't feel this marginalized that they join terror groups or think that joining terror groups are the answers to their problems. There is no reason that this far into the 21st century that religious differences should divide us, as well as other stereotypes that seem to divide society. Sadly, I don't think these will ever go away because that's human nature to an extent, but we should work together to prevent these types of situations. 

1 comment:

  1. We should all work together towards a more peaceful world. I just wish I had the answer as to how!