An amazing new paper published by The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College in London takes a look at the fascinating phenomenon of foreign fighters in Syria and what inspires them. Based on a new database of 190 social media profiles of young men associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, the report is one of the first to take a systematic look at trends patterns among western Muslims going to fight in Syria and their evolving views of the nature of the conflict – and of martyrdom. Referring to fallen comrades as “green birds” (a scriptural reference to the glory of martyrdom), these social media expound on the glory of dying in the cause of the umma.
Read the report in tandem with this interesting article from MEMRI that illustrates different jihadi narratives in social media. The modern da’wa (an invitation to the faith or, for these guys, fighting in Syria) emphasizes the great fun that the “brothers” are having together: watching movies, playing soccer, and hanging out at the pool between battles.
One of the more interesting aspects of the whole thing is the huge impact of rap culture – images of Tupac and Osama bin Laden abound!