The Lure of Becoming an ISIS Bride


Interpol Is Searching For Two Austrian Teenaged Girls Who They Believe Have Been Tricked Into Going To Syria To Fight On The Side Of Islamic Rebels.

The Teenagers Vanished Last Week. The First Their Parents Knew Was When They Started Getting Messages Posted On Social Media Networks Saying That They Had Gone To Fight The "holy War."

But The Parents Say That They Don't Believe The Messages Are Being Written By The Girls.  Authorities Suspect They Have Been Tricked Into Leaving The Country.

Samra Kesinovic Is Just 16, And Her Friend Sabina Selimovic, 15. They Come From Bosnian Refugee Families Who Settled In Austria After The Ethnic Wars Of The 1990's And Were Born In The Country.

New Photos On Their Facebook Pages Show Them  Brandishing Kalashnikov Rifles ñ And In Some Cases Surrounded By Armed Men.

In The Latest Posting They Announced Plans To Marry So That They Could Become "holy Warriors" And In The Messages - Which Their Familes Doubt Originated From Them - They Say: "Death Is Our Goal". Austrian Officials Believe That The Pair Judging By The Scenes Around Them Are In A Training Camp And Are Not Only Already Married, But Also
Already Living In The Homes Of Their New Husbands.

In Vienna The Family Admitted That The Two Had Recently Started Going To A Local Mosque Run By A Radical Imam.

The Two Girls Fathers Are Reportedly Already Abroad Looking For Their Daughters Who Have Not Contacted Their Parents, To Have Been Sending Messages To Their Friends Over The Internet Talking About Their New Lives And Adding: "nobody Will Ever Find Us Here."

Austrian Media Said The Two Attractive Young Teenagers Had Become The Public Face For The Call To Jihad In Syria, And Alleged That They Had Been Tricked Into Going To The Country In Order To Publicise The Call To Arms.


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Interpol Has Got Involved In The Search For Two Austrian-born Teenage Girls Who Police Believe May Hav
Samra Kesinovic, 17, and her friend Sabina Selimovic–two beautiful, young Bosnian immigrant girls who left their families in Vienna, Austria in 2014 are reported today to have been beaten to death after being caught trying to flee the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.[i] Indeed the fates of those who join ISIS with wide and shining eyes, only to later get disillusioned, is not pretty and often ends in death, beatings, beheadings and more. What makes Westerners, particularly young girls, want to join ISIS?

The allure for Western girls, particularly from Europe, to join ISIS as brides emanates from a number of things. First, if they perceive discrimination and marginalization as standing in their way to finding success in Europe, ISIS is offering a new world order in which race, ethnicity and particularly being Muslim are no longer obstacles. They also offer for Western women a traditional life style, marriage, adventure, a home (taken from others of course) and even a car to be part of the bargain. Likewise when young Western women first express interest in joining they are typically swarmed and/or groomed for hours with painstaking attention paid to helping them buy into the ISIS worldview. Sadly when they get there the facts on the ground don’t match the reality and then they have to risk their lives to escape and may not be able to–facing the prospect of beatings and beheadings as a result.

ISIS in its call to the Caliphate is also offering a new world order in which the current geo-political conflicts will, according to ISIS, be resolved with everyone ultimately living as Muslim in a utopian life governed by Islamic ideals–heady stuff for the young who are disheartened by real injustices in the world and still believe in the possibility of utopias. The violence necessary to get there is dismissed by recruiters as necessary for revolutions to succeed and who point out the current level of violence that many innocent Muslims are enduring living under despotic regimes. Who will save the Muslim world from suffering they ask, if not Muslims themselves? Certainly the West is failing to do so they point out.

To counter the narrative that groups like al Qaeda and ISIS are currently selling, we need to address the conflict zones, particularly in Syria and Iraq with speedy and well-thought out political solutions, and back home we need a civil rights movement–at least in Europe–to encourage the integration of now sidelined second generation immigrant Muslim kids, to help them succeed and be able to see their futures in the West, instead of with a horrific and violent organization–whether or not it claims to be the true Islam. Then their passions to change the world and their desire to be self actualized can happen without the involvement of groups like ISIS or al Qaeda coming into the mix.

[i] Boyle, D. (November 24, 2015). Teenage Islamist ‘poster girl’ who fled Austria to join ISIS ‘is beaten to death by the terror group after trying to escape from Syria’. Daily Mail. Retrieved from:

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. : is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and has taught the Psychology of Terrorism in the Security Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service. She is Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism and a nonresident Fellow of Trends. She is also the author of Talking to Terrorists and coauthor of Undercover Jihadi. Her newly released book, inspired by the true story of an American girl seduced over the Internet into ISIS is Bride of ISIS.  Dr. Speckhard has interviewed over four hundred terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan and many countries in Europe. She was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to twenty thousand detainees and eight hundred juveniles.  Website:

Anne Speckhard

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine and has also taught the Psychology of Terrorism for the Security Studies Department in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is the Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism. Dr. Speckhard has been working in the field of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the 1980’s and has extensive experience working in Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.

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