I find it astounding when I see the number of people who have joined the ISIS over the years. They are willing to speak a foreign tongue and move to an alien culture, that too a desert, to roam around with weapons and brutally decapitate anyone who does not adhere to their radical Salafi ideas irrespective of whether the victim is Muslim or not. They are willing to have sex with sex-slaves, not believe in principles of democracy, human rights, secularism, have faith only in Sharia law and nothing else, destroy ancient cultures and abandon their loved ones – who even wants such a dangerous life? Who gets attracted to something like that? Believe it or not, nearly 41490 people from around 111 countries have given in to the attractions of such a lifestyle. They have travelled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. Of these nearly six thousand people are from France, Germany and the UK alone. Barbarianism and brutality are perhaps inherent aspects of the human psyche. Or else why have people become so blood-thirsty? And how have so many people managed to envisage the impossible scenario that overnight everyone in the world will become Salafi or Wahabi, with one caliphate in charge of ruling them all.
People dream the impossible, having impossible dreams is not a crime. Those who believe in utopia, for instance, can be said to be dreaming the impossible. But they don’t necessarily believe in barbarianism. The problem lies with those who wish to actualise their dreams by way of violence and brutality. Be it Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot, each of them had certain dreams. It was just that their dreams required putting people through unspeakable torture, inhuman suffering and brutal slaughter for fulfilment. In our time Maoists are killing people to fulfil their dreams, the victims are more often than not common people. Does that really benefit the Maoists?
ISIS too wants to control the world by killing people. If it were up to them the world would be populated primarily by a horde of murderous and barbaric men and where women will have no freedom whatsoever. The role of women will be reduced simply to being slaves, sexual or otherwise, to men. This may as well be the dream of certain groups of people, but for any other decent human being this will surely be a nightmare.
With the fall of ISIS at hand, many of its radical members have returned to their respective countries, around 1800 of whom have gone back to Europe. However, nearly 15000-16000 terrorists reportedly still remain in Iraq and Syria. Their time is up as well. Of course, a number of erstwhile radicals have realised the error of their ways; it has dawned on them how unwise joining a group as vicious as ISIS had been. They have finally understood that ISIS is in no way representative of true Islam and of peace; instead, it is all about unrest and strife. But someone like the Bangladeshi-origin Shamima Begum is yet to learn this lesson and the veil of religion still covers her vision. Even today she can proudly claim how she did not feel a sliver of regret or repentance at the sight of someone’s severed head in a dustbin. She has absolutely no doubts or anxieties regarding the deadly political games of ISIS, rather she believes that these policies are illustrative of true Islam. According to her if Islam says that the decapitation of a non-believer is just, then it truly is just and there is nothing to get perturbed about. How brainwashed does someone have to be to side with brutality without a glimmer of misgiving or tremor in their assertions! Not only is Shamima not remorseful, rather she has proudly declared that she did nothing wrong by joining ISIS. Despite having seen both her children die right in front of her eyes she does not regret moving to Syria. She still believes in the ideals of ISIS, insists on blaming the ones who have bombed and destroyed ISIS settlements.
The only reason she wishes to return to the UK is for the sake of her last remaining son, this is her fervent request after the loss of her other two children. The father of the child was a Dutch terrorist of ISIS. What I cannot understand is why Shamima, being an advocate of rabid Salafi ideas herself, has not sought shelter among the Salafi people of Saudi Arabia. Even after murdering so many innocent non-Muslims and spewing extreme hatred against them all the time, when it comes to living somewhere these people still choose a non-Muslim country. Such strange duality between thought and action! Now that the UK has revoked her citizenship she has gone on record saying she will seek refuge in her husband’s country Netherlands. What if the Netherlands too refuses to allow her within their borders? Will she then accept that she had made a mistake by joining ISIS? Shamima has not been blaming herself for her pitiful condition though! Instead, she has been putting the blame on the UK and on the coalition that has been waging war against ISIS. On the other hand, I cannot help but blame Shamima’s parents, the ones who began drilling fundamentalist ideas into her head when she was a child, making her lose her sense of reason and turning her into a fanatic. Fanatics find it very easy condone terrorist activities in the name of religion.
Liberals want Shamima to be allowed to return to the UK. According to them, her son is not guilty of any crime. Besides, they argue that since Shamima turned to terrorism while she was still in the UK the latter government must accept its responsibility in the matter. They believe that a fifteen-year-old girl is susceptible to making mistakes, so she must be given the choice to either find rehabilitation or face a court of law, even if that means being sentenced to prison. The right-wing is of the opinion that all ISIS agents must be executed because keeping them alive means taking unnecessary risks. Besides, no country will be willing to take such people back. Even though she is of Bangladeshi origin, Bangladesh will not take her back. Bangladesh has no dearth of terrorists and they are definitely not going to be giving shelter to new ones. Only Shamima and her well-wishers can now figure out what will eventually happen to her. Some people believe that such abrupt revocations of citizenship of known terrorists will only serve to fuel their resentment further, more fires will burn and terrorist activities will increase. But what will other people learn if terrorists are allowed to resettle? They will perhaps learn that one need not forgo comforts and privileges even after turning to terrorism; that on facing hardships it is really easy to return to the civilised world. And that they will always have further opportunities to carry out acts of terror, as seasoned terror veterans living in Europe and America.
I fear that if Shamima returns to the UK she will perhaps hide bombs underneath her burqa and carry out terrorist attacks in crowded places or metro rails to slaughter non-Muslims. Brainwashing is a dangerous thing; it is nearly impossible to turn an indoctrinated mind back to how it used to be previously. People can go from being moderate to being extremist really swiftly but the reverse journey is not so easy. Should I then, like the most zealous right-wing fundamentalist, demand that all terrorists and jihadis be killed? No, I will not say that. Everyone has the right to life. Rather, I hope Shamima can keep faith in her beliefs till her last breath if she so chooses. However, with so much hatred in her heart against heretics, it will surely not be safe for her to travel to a nation of heretics like the UK. In fact, even a British prison might not be safe for her. Since her views on non-Muslims have become well publicised, most people will come to regard her with distrust, with hatred and even fear. This will surely make Shamima even more vengeful and make her commit bigger acts of terror, something that will not be good for her and definitely not for the UK either. Just as jihadis don’t care about themselves, they don’t care about other people either. All those people in the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka were slaughtered in cold-blood by really young boys. Did those boys take training somewhere to be able to decapitate someone? Indoctrination can make people achieve anything, including the murder of innocent people, loved ones and even oneself.
Shamima and the many other ISIS agents who remain in stateless conditions in Iraq or Syria, those who have lost their US or European citizenships or are in the process of losing them, rather than trying these aforementioned places they ought to try and seek refuge in countries with Muslim majorities, especially the ones where Sharia law is followed. It is in such countries that these people will perhaps manage to find true inner peace. No one will have anything to say to someone wearing a burqa in such a place, in fact the burqa will not be illegal there like it is in Europe. And the men of ISIS too will be able to dress like the Prophet as they go about their daily affairs. No one will attack them for being terrorists and they will be able to comfortably merge into Muslim society. So instead of trying to send them back to Europe or America, I urge everyone to help these people return to countries ruled by Sharia law.