FIRST-HAND ACCOUNTS FROM WESTERNERS WHO DEFECTED FROM ISIS: RECRUITMENT, ALLEGIANCE, DEFECTION
Biondi-Copeland, Evander B
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Jihadist terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) has demonstrated a formidable ability to recruit Western civilians as future members. Although prior studies have investigated ISIS’ recruitment techniques targeting Americans and Europeans, much of this research has been limited in inquiry and scope. This study seeks to offer a more comprehensive review through eyewitness accounts from ISIS defectors now residing in the West. This research study aims to assist counterterrorism personnel in combatting ISIS recruitment, help Westerners recognize family and peers that may be in jeopardy of radicalization, offer lessons to Westerners who may be contemplating membership in jihadist organizations, and educate American society on how to defeat terrorist marketing in the West. Ultimately, the data accumulated through third-party interviews with Western jihadist recruits only partially confirmed the hypothesis above. While the data sufficiently identified the catalysts for ISIS membership and provided clear warnings for future sympathizers, it only offered general guidance to counterterrorist personnel and the greater public. The fact that the hypothesis was hence only somewhat realized signifies the need for greater research of Western recruits.