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Sarah Buzaglo

While ISIS fights a war with bullets, missiles, and bombs across Syria and Iraq, its sophisticated social media campaign operates in cyberspace, drawing in supporters by the thousands with sharp videos and expert graphics. But who exactly is falling for this digital hate?

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

On an October morning in Arapahoe County near Denver last year, theFarah sisters, aged 15 and 17, asked their father if they could stay home from school for the day. They were feeling ill, they told him, and needed time to recuperate.  AliFarah, a 68-year-old Sudanese immigrant, allowed the girls their sick day and set off for work. At 10:30 that morning he received a phone call. His girls said that they were feeling better and were heading toward the local library. Nothing seemed unusual. But by the time he returned home,AliFarah’s suspicions were raised. His girls weren’t in the house and weren’t answering their cell phones. It didn’t take long before there was a knock on the door. Standing there was 48-year-oldAssadIbrahim, the father of a 16-year-old friend of theFarah sisters. He had come to ask if theFarah girls knew where his daughter was, since she had not returned home from school. Ibrahim toldFarah that his daughter had left as usual that morning to catch a 6:30 school bus. But later the school called him to say that his daughter had never arrived. When he called her, she told him not to worry — she was only late. When he tried to call her back a little later, there was no response. Ibrahim then searched his daughter’s room and found that her passport was missing.Farah too sprang into action, proceeding to search his own daughters’ room, only to find their passports also missing — along with $2,000 in cash. Determined to discover his daughter’s whereabouts,AssadIbrahim turned to her social media accounts and posted a message on her Twitter account, asking followers to message him if they had any information. It was only then that he noticed earlier messages posted by all three girls that very morning asking their 2,000 followers to pray on their behalf because “it was urgently needed.” A quick exploration of other social media revealed the girls were in communication with men and women claiming to be members ofISIS and living in Syria. Shockingly, the conservative Muslim girls — all responsible, straight-A students — were posting comments that can only be described as extremist.  

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