Monday, February 23, 2015

When Good Middle Class boys become Bad and Join IS !!

And once again Islam Yaken is back to the news and media in Egypt. Last week the New York Times published an interesting profile and video report about ISIS hipster Egyptian spokesperson Islam Yaken and his life in Egypt featuring two of his friends and once again the debate on why the good Middle Class boys join the Islamic State militant group is back.

Yeah we are back to this old debate.

Of course it did not stop at the NY Time’s feature as IS’ PR media machine could not waste this opportunity. From couple of days ago Yaken announced on his twitter account that one of his close friends in Egypt  joined him in ISIS.
Islam and Mahmoud , Now and then
2010 in Cairo and 2015 in Levant 
That friend is yet another good middle class boy 24-years old Mahmoud Ghandour who joined Yaken in their pseudo-caliphate.The faculty of law graduate and the former football referee in the second degree football league in Egypt appeared in the NY Times video in the 2:97 minute where he and Yakan spoke about women.

Interestingly El-Ghandour was known to journalists who were doing profiles and reports about the ISIS social media face Yaken as he had a contact with his friend.

Despite he appeared not to having a problem in speaking to journalists at first, he said he did not want to speak later to them. He even warned and advised them to stay away from him and from Islam.
A quick bio about Yaken based on his social media profiles , he used to be a normal Egyptian Middle Class young man who loved music and women till Mid 2013 when he began to share Pro-IS views.

In the same year he traveled Syria allegedly for charity works but he actually his old pal who he knew from several years ago Mr. Islam Yaken in IS.

Then  he returned back to Egypt and was arrested in July 2014. He was detained for two months allegedly on suspicion for being a Muslim Brotherhood member but he was released later. In Late December 2014 he traveled to Italy and from there to Turkey and from there he got to this caliphate of psychopaths. Do not ask me how he left the country when he explicitly expressed Pro-IS views all the time and he was already detained by security authorities. 
Brothers in arm now 
Now the Egyptian media is crazy about El-Ghandour , after all he is the nephew of Egypt’s most famous international referee Gamal El-Ghandour. Now mothers warn their boys from speaking to bad boys online , otherwise they would deceive them to join IS after good dose of similar warnings on TV.
I won’t fall in to IS’ trap and give those more than those paragraphs because I realized that the media is giving IS a golden opportunity to promote its sick ideas by following every photo those young men publish on their social media accounts by the orders of their commanders. 
My focus here is on the same old debate about why boys , mostly good middle class boys join terrorist organizations like ISIS.

It seems to me that the Pro-regime supporters are ridiculing the fact that oppression and injustice play a powerful way in creating terrorists.Hate , oppression, poverty and ignorance play a role in creating terrorism in addition to the fact that there is blood thirst psychopaths.

And yes even European Muslims join IS despite living in democratic countries , another fact I can not ignore. Still I know very well the problems of Muslim Youth in Egypt are different than those in Europe.

This is not my talk , there are political , academic and psychological studies about this.
Yes it is not all about poverty and oppression but all those factors play a role.
You can not expect to win the war against terrorism without tackling all the reasons making the society ready to produce future terrorists.
You can not ignore this fact and just say that Yakan and El-Ghandour were simply brainwashed and that’s it. We have to ask questions.
Recently people raised questions about the religious discourse adopted by Islamic institutions in Al-Azhar , it is a step but it is not enough.
And yes each person has his own circumstances. Ahmed El-Darawi is not Islam Yaken and Islam Yaken is Mahmoud El-Ghandour , this is a fact.
Personally I think El-Ghandour’s road to ISIS started with repentance from being a playboy to devoted Muslim whose best friend is ISIS hipster.
I was once told by one of the important sociologists in Egypt and the Arab world who had extensive research with Jihadists in 1980s and 1990s that radical times of change like the one we are living in the past 4 year s make some people radicalize in their actions due to their frustration and the fact they can’t cope with changes.
They had high hopes and suddenly they face a bitter reality. This is sociologist gave me examples like What happened to El-Darawi and late political activist Zeinab El-Mahdy
Some speculate that El-Ghandour joined ISIS after his detention in Egypt.
Actually it is untrue as he joined it earlier and he was only detained for two month. Still it is a fact according to many released detained and political prisoners the radical jihadist thought is having a comeback in the Egyptian prisons among Islamist youth. It is 1980s déjà vu.
This is what I fear more than those good middle class boys joining ISIS in Levant. Those prisoners will have hate and bitterness towards the society.

New Recruits

ISIS is targeting a specific class of youth in Egypt and the social media is helping a role here. We are not speaking about the old Jihadist type of poor uneducated Islamists in Cairo’s alleys. We are speaking about Middle Class boys educated in private language schools.  
It seems to me that among all Egyptian fighters in IS , the commanders like to show off their Middle and Upper Middle Class members like Yaken and Ghandour. I think the real role of Yaken and Ghandour is to recruit new fighters similar to them through social media.
Those photos of Yaken and Ghandour published by the orders of Yaken’s commanders without doubt in order to send a message that we are attracting new recruits from Egypt.
Islam Yaken and his pal Ghandour are claiming that they are still on contact with their friends in Egypt thanks to the social media and here is not about Twitter and Facebook. You got other networks and social media sites you are not paying attention to like for instance Instagram , Ask.FM,Line and Retrica. For God’s sake Ghandour has not closed yet his Facebook account !!!
Of course you won’t fight terrorism by blocking those social media sites or spying on users but you realize the new challenge in front of you. 
By the way just another fact ,Not all good middle class boys become bad after all.
 Hossam Atef who used to be Yaken’s friend and appeared in the NY Times’ video is the man behind “The Egyptian Spiderman”. Yeah he found his way after all and now he got a real good business as photographer.
Hossam and his teddy bear from His Valentine's project
"Antikka Photography" 

There is hope after all.

1 comment:

  1. This is very good, but from a European perspective I would like to add that EU leaders have
    been confronted by several moral crises and have reacted badly. In addition UK politicians have become a laughing stock and the media exhort clownishness and trivialities to
    such an extent that there is no stomach for serious education of misguided Islamists.
    When young men find they have to pay for bullshit certificates to read gas meters or
    they have to learn deception and bullying to work in 'call centers' it is hardly surprising that some not only wish to opt out, but also want to see an end to the oppressive form of capitalism which lubricates the sale of armoured trucks & electric batons.


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