Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Jihad Johnny

Avi Friedman

In the aftermath of the gruesome murder of American journalist James Foley by a suspected London-born ISIS recruit, increasing attention is being paid to the thousands of volunteers from the West who are not only joining the jihad in Iraq and Syria, but are threatening to take their newfound terror ideology back home. With slick English-language PR, ISIS and other militant Islamic groups promise these directionless Westerners eternal glory and a seat next to Allah for defeating Western culture.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Growing up, Abu Muslim lived the proverbial middle class dream. He was a typical Canadian who played hockey and enjoyed the outdoors, spent summers at his family cottage away from the city, and enjoyed a strong network of family and close friends. Living at home, his job as a street janitor paid him over $2,000 a month — not enough to make him wealthy, but certainly enough to afford him a comfortable life. “Even though I wasn’t rich beyond my wildest imagination, I was, you know, making it,” said Abu Muslim, a healthy-looking 20-something with clean-shaven cheeks and a short goatee. “Life was good. I always had family to support me, I had friends to support me.” If Abu Muslim’s childhood sounds comfortably unremarkable, that’s because it was. He wasn’t a social outcast. He had lots of friends. He was never attracted by wild social movements or anarchy. He was never out to destroy the world or to kill. He was surrounded by a loving family and was well integrated. It should be noted, however, that Abu Muslim did not speak to Mishpacha magazine for this article, and with good reason: He was killed several months ago, fighting on the front lines for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The quotes and descriptions presented here are taken from an ISIS recruiting video entitled Al-Ghuraba: The Chosen Few of Different Lands, starring none other than this self-described “ordinary Canadian.” The story of Abu Muslim, a well-adjusted, middle-class Western kid who becomes interested in Islam and eventually finds his way to the world’s most infamous terror group, could well go down not only as the major international news story of 2014, but of the second decade of the 21st century. How does a clean-cut kid from Toronto or Vancouver suddenly come to describe life in Canada as da’at al-kufr, the religion of the heretics? How does he abandon any and all inklings of basic human morality, in favor of life in an Islamic state known best for its brutal massacres marked by beheadings, its kidnapping of women into slavery, and threats to export its violent jihad to London, New York, Melbourne, and elsewhere?

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

What Are We Supposed to Do?
Rabbi Moshe Grylak A tried-and-true remedy — and it shook the heavens
Badgered into Submission
Yonoson Rosenblum Avatars of political correctness in search of dissenters
Drinking Doubt Away
Eytan Kobre Meaning is indispensable for generating happiness
Checks and Balances III
Mishpacha Readers The conversation continues...
Memorable Melodies of Modzhitz
Rabbi Mordechai Besser The struggling survivors became kings in shul on Shabbos
A Whole Song and Dance
Rabbi Ron Yitzchak Eisenman One of those small acts that are giant leaps of chesed
Jacob L. Freedman MD "Each Jewish woman is a bas Melech, Dr. Freedman!"
Streamlined Service
Riki Goldstein "JewishMusic Stream is still about classic kosher music”
Perfect Harmony
Riki Goldstein "The arrangements literally changed the entire song"
Hang On to the Glow
Riki Goldstein Back to the warm camp Shabbos memories
Marking Miracles
Faigy Peritzman The miracles are there, but our eyes are blind to them
Going Against the Current
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Wise to deny our kids something all their friends have?
Clothed in Splendor
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz When dressing up is spiritual, not superficial
The Spokesman: Part IV
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Every sentence tells a story; make yours well told