As United States President Barack Obama has vowed to combat ISIS with the help of an international coalition, US law enforcement are facing their own battle against ISIS on American soil, according to a report by Reuters. A new phenomenon of American women fleeing to the Middle East to join ISIS has many baffled.
Law enforcement officials released information on three cases of Somali families from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area who reported that some of their female relatives went missing. Over the last six weeks, the women are believed to have disappeared with the express purpose of joining ISIS abroad.
In a separate case, a 19-year-old American women from a Somali background fled from her St. Paul home. The woman told her parents she was attending a bridal shower. Instead, on August 25, she flew to Turkey and joined ISIS in Syria.
The woman is believed to have been recruited by ISIS through Islamist sympathizers in the US. Officials said they are investigating at least one other women who is suspected of helping her leave the US.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have been on the radar of counter-terrorism officials since 2007. Home to one of the biggest Somali communities in the US, several terror groups, including al-Shabaab, have successfully recruited individuals from the community, right on American soil.
Law enforcement officials estimate that this year alone, some 15-20 men with connections to the Minnesota Somali community fought for ISIS and other Islamist extremist groups in Syria. One of the men, Douglas McAuthur McCain, a convert to Islam, was killed in battle this summer.
FBI division counsel in Minneapolis, Greg Boosalis, said that law enforcement is currently investigating other possible recruitment to ISIS in the Twin City area. “We are looking into the possibility of additional men and women travelers,” he said.
The phenomenon of American women joining the ranks of ISIS has also spread to other parts of the country. Shannon Conley, 19, a nurse’s aid from Colorado, pleaded guilty this week to attempting to join a terror organization abroad.
Conley was arrested at Denver International Airport in April as she was attempting to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS. Conley purchased a one-way ticket and admitted that she had been recruited online by a male militant in Syria.
Besides to aerial attacks on ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria, President Obama vowed that the government would “intervene with at-risk individuals before they become radicalized toward violence and decide to travel abroad to Syria and Iraq to join ISIL.”
While many of the women believe they are joining ISIS for a higher cause, the reality of their situation once they arrive to the Middle East turns out to be somewhat different.
Mia Bloom, from the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, told Reuters that the women are regarded by the male jihadists as a means to produce little baby jihadists.
“ISIS is recruiting these women in order to be baby factories. They are seeing the establishment of an Islamic state and now they need to populate the state,” Bloom explained.
As the US is faced with combating ISIS at home and abroad, in Israel the terror organization is posing a greater threat as each week goes by. Already operating in Gaza, ISIS is moving closer to Israel’s borders.
On Sunday, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, the more moderate rebel group opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad, revealed that some 6,000 fighters stationed in southern Syria near the border with Israel belong to ISIS and not, as previously believed, to the al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nursa Front.
The official said that ISIS has been secretly working to established “sleeper cells in the south, which are hidden,” to be used when the moment is deemed right to attack Israel.
As part of an international coalition fighting ISIS, Israel has been providing the Pentagon with sensitive intelligence and satellite imagery on ISIS positions in the Middle East.