A Sad British Tale of the Bedroom Radicalization of Three Girls
British and Turkish officials along with the families of three girls - ages 15 and 16, are frantically trying to locate the teenagers who left London last week for Turkey to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State(IS).
The tale of these three young women is generating a lot of attention in Britain where authorities are engaged in finger pointing blame of the police, an airline, the Turkish Embassy in London and social media sites, with Prime Minister David Cameron suggesting that online services need to do more to combat extremism on the web.
Reports out of London suggest that the teenage girls were radicalized in "their bedrooms" on the Internet with exposure to extremist sites through social media companies.
"All of us have been horrified by the way that British teenagers appear to have been radicalized and duped by this poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism while at home on the Internet in their bedrooms," Reuters cited Prime Minister Cameron.
"Given reports that one of the girls was following as many as 70 extremists online, this case underlines the importance of the work we are doing with social media companies," Cameron added while observing, "Internet companies have a social responsibility. And we expect them to live up to it."
But is social media to blame for any part thereof the radicalization of any individual? Prime Minister Cameron on calling for Internet sites to live up to their social responsibilities, fails miserable to acknowledge the role of government and of society in ensuring that radicalization is not attractive to so many young people. Reports indicate that some 600 Brits have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight with militants.
Overlooked in these multiplying sad cases of youths being radicalized and wanting to join militants in the Levant, is the deep common core of British, French, German, Belgian and other Western societal values that have in some way created, attributed and inspired the desire by so many young people to consider Jihad.
Radicalization does not occur overnight. It is the sum of experiences and observations for want of a change based upon ills an individual has determined exist that need fixing.
With regards to the three most recent cases of British girls - Shamima Begum, 15; Kadiza Sultana, 16; and Amira Abase, 15; the headmistress of their school, according to reports, has said that police found no cause of concern as to their radicalization when they were interviewed by police last December when another friend of their's apparently left for Syria. Obviously, the girls were most secretive in their beliefs. Yet, the answer remains elusive as to what drives young Western people to join militants in the Levant.
My observation remains that years of discriminatory actions witnessed and experienced by victims along with a fallible perceived policy of hypocrisy by Western nations has contributed to radicalization by young people.
It is more the fault of Western nations not to engage their youths on duties of patriotism and community health than the attractiveness of militant propaganda that has led so many young people to seek glory in the Levant. Nations could finger point as much and as often as they like, but greater control of the Internet and of international travel will not stop the spread of this phenomenon until all people, in spite of race, religion and national origin, are allowed to engage in meaningful exercises of patriotism and responsible community health.