This week, I looked at an article which examined the story of a Middle-Eastern man named Ahmad Walid Rashidi who has had several direct encounters with Muslim extremist groups throughout his life. At the age of five, he lost several family members to violent acts by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then, last year, Ahmad claims to have ventured into ISIS-controlled territory in an attempt to bring back two young Danish women who had run away from their parents to marry jihadist fighters. Like almost all other stories that occur in ISIS-controlled territory, the story is difficult to confirm but most of the details seem to be corroborated by other parties and Ahmad has several documents which appeared to be issued by ISIS itself.
Although Ahmad condemns the group and all acts of terrorism, he raises several points related to how he can understand how so many young people have been drawn to the extremist group. Ahmad argues that ISIS’ claim that it is attempting to right the wrongs of American colonialism and discrimination is a powerful tool in winning over not only the disenfranchised in the Middle-East but also the highly educated who are aware of the consequences of colonialism. Furthermore, Ahmad points to how out of touch the Western world is with the conflicts in the Middle East as reason for many Middle Easterners to be drawn to extremist groups as a way of lashing out.
Ahmad’s story, if it is true, speaks to the way in which long-standing global conflicts can shape the social environments of various regions in radically different ways. The effects of American and European colonialism for the West resulted in significant economic and political gains in the short-term at the price of long-term social stability for those regions.
4/25/15 9:39 pm