Why does someone want to join ISIS

interview

Status: 07/06/2020 4:33 p.m.

The five-part NDR culture podcast "Homecoming. Life after Terror" is about three young men who left for Syria a few years ago and joined the terrorist militia "Islamic State" there. Only one of them has returned, Oliver. The question arises for him how he deals with his guilt today. Marvin and Ferhat have not returned; their fate is uncertain. How do their families deal with the disappearance of their brothers, children and grandchildren? For the Islamism expert Claudia Dantschke, such fates are gruesome everyday life.

Ms. Dantschke, the three in our podcast are not isolated cases. Who are these young people who are leaving their homeland to fight a war in Syria that is not theirs?

Claudia Dantschke founded the "Hayat" initiative nine years ago together with extremism expert Bernd Wagner.

Claudia Dantschke: These are very different young men - but also young women: Around 21 percent of those who emigrate are young women between the ages of 15 and their mid-twenties. The men are mostly between 17 and early 30. They come from all social classes and come from different origins. There are very different motivations. Some were frustrated with life, with their families, had no perspective on life - or felt it to be so. And then there was this attractive offer to make history: "I am very important, I can help build the new caliphate there." The motivation is mostly to somehow make something meaningful out of his life - at least supposedly.

How many men and women does it affect?

Dantschke: According to the authorities, 1,050 people left Germany for Syria and Iraq. Of these, around 75 percent went to IS and 25 percent to Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.

These young people move into very ancient, archaic structures and give up their freedom. Are you not aware of that?

Podcast: Homecoming

Oliver, Marvin, Ferhat: All three went to IS in Syria. Only Oliver is here again. Simply with the question: Does society want to accept me again? more

Dantschke: The key to the question of why someone left the country is the question of what life was like in Germany up to that point. What problems did you have? Some of them, especially young women, are looking for these rigid structures: they previously had the feeling that they had no ground under their feet and could not do anything with themselves. They are looking for such a line of order and for someone to take them by the hand, make decisions and responsibility for them, and tell them what to do.

Everyone who left the country was radicalized beforehand. They have been promised an identity: "You are now a Muslim, and within the Muslim community you belong to the best, to the leadership." With this identity there was also an appreciation and, associated with it, a devaluation of the enemy images of this ideology.

The second important narrative is that allegedly everywhere in the world Islam and Muslims are being fought explicitly: "And you are now someone who belongs to this supposed group of victims, but you are not someone who sits and complains, but someone who do something about it that defends the poor women and children, the Muslim sisters and brothers.

Homecoming. Life after terror.

Feature and podcast series by Mariam Noori and Lisa Hagen.

Contributors: Katrin Decker, Sebastian-Jakob Doppelbauer, Henning Hartmann and Amelle Schwerk
Director: Beatrix Ackers
Technical realization: Kai Schliekelmann and Corinna Kammerer
Production: NDR 2020

How do those left behind, the families, deal with it?

Dantschke: The families are very horrified. Many did not notice what their son or daughter was planning. So they left in secret. Most of the time they also lied to their loved ones. The families are initially enormously disappointed. Because this is a war zone there, families fluctuate between disgusting what their sons or daughters do there and fear of losing their sons or daughters. In this balancing act, they are constantly moving.

We look after these relatives and tell them that they are the most important part in keeping in touch. Because on site these boys and girls experienced things that are suitable for clearing your mind again - at least giving rise to doubts as to whether that was really the right step: "Maybe I took the wrong step after all and would like to revise it . I want to come home and maybe start another life after all. "

The conversation went on Jürgen Deppe

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NDR culture | Journal | 07/06/2020 | 7:00 p.m.