A 22 year-old infant care assistant has become the first Singaporean national to be arrested for radicalisation after investigations showed she seriously wanted to become a “martyr’s bride” in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
Authorities detained Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari under the Internal Security Act (ISA) on Monday, June 12, according to Today Online. Reports stated that she had been working for a year at PCF SparkleTots Preschool for less than a year but had been in contact with ISIS personnels.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Izzah was self-radicalised over the course of a few years since 2013 after she made contact with ISIS elements on social media. After developing a wide network of foreign contacts, she had expressed pride over avoiding detection by the Singapore government.
What is a martyr’s bride?
While the details of Izzah’s particular radicalisation haven’t been released, there is extensive documentation about what the ISIS does offer. Here’s what Izzah could have been promised:
The ISIS packages their propaganda towards women to include a sense of community and kinship with other girls who join the terrorist group. Other females join voices in cajoling girls to travel and join the group to form bonds of friendship that they said would last a lifetime.
If the woman being radicalised doesn’t have good marriage prospects or relationships at home, a ready warrior in the ISIS could certainly be attractive. All she has to do is join and she is engaged and would be married soon. A woman is “paired” with a jihadist online and the online courtship begins.
- Acceptance and validation
Even before they even go to ISIS, women get immediate gratification for any form of radicalisation–no matter how little. They get hundred for likes on Instagram as well thousands of new friends and followers on other social media platforms.
- An almost-perfect community waiting for her
Women are shown photos that portray a peaceful, economically-abundant community that has a bustling marketplaces. A woman in the ISIS would never go without food, shelter, a sense of belongingness and safety.
- A place for their children
Single mothers have difficulty making new relationships because of their children. But the ISIS allows and even encourages them to bring the minors to the terrorist group. While the women are assured that her child will be taken care of, they are not told that their children are to be groomed as the next generation of fighters.
Still, many women including Izzah have been seduced and radicalised thanks to the social media package and propaganda that ISIS disseminates. Upon reaching the Islamic State, however, the truth of their situation may not match what they find, especially if they do not adhere completely to the rules.
According to the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, the way women are treated in the Islamic State varies and is still an unclear picture, but there are reports consisting of dozens of documented cases where “martyr’s brides” have had second thoughts and would want to return to their families.
Reports say that Izzah had been looking for an ISIS fighter to marry since 2015 and would welcome the status of being a martyr’s widow as well, as it would ensure her subsequent marriages to similar fighters in the future.
If you detect your loved ones becoming self-radicalised like Izzah, the right thing to do is to report the person immediately to the relevant authorities to get help.
In a interview with TNP, the president of the Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore (Darul Arqam), Muhammed Faiz, shared that early reporting is always the key to helping those influenced by extremist and exclusivist views. If loved ones are unsure where to draw the line, Faiz said help is always available to clarify their doubts.
“When it concerns religion, there could be some hesitation, but these apprehensions are not an excuse,” said Faiz.
“There are avenues to seek help here… we have the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), and the community should know that the door is always open. They are here to help.”