Wednesday, August 26, 2015


By William Yaw Owusu
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

There is growing disquiet in the Ghanaian Muslim community following news that some Muslim youth are joining the swelling ranks of the dreaded Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

News about a 25-year-old graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Nazir Nortei Alema, purportedly joining the terrorist group recently spread like wild fire and it has attracted both national and international concerns.

The National Security as a result, has reportedly commenced investigations into activities of the would-be terrorists and the Ghana Police Service is deeply involved.

The National Security was apparently hit by DAILY GUIDE’s publication yesterday, sending security operatives scurrying for details of the story and location of Nazir’s house.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that Nazir Nortei Alema’s issue could be a tip of the iceberg because a good number of Muslim youth are ever prepared to join ISIS and other terrorist groups to fight Jihad (Holy War).

At least more than 10 boys, mostly in tertiary institutions, allegedly left Ghana in May 2015 to join the terror grouping in the Middle East but the security agencies are yet to confirm or deny the claim.

Widespread Phenomenon
A lecturer at KNUST who is a Muslim told DAILY GUIDE on condition of anonymity that “It is really a fact that it is a widespread phenomenon. The youth appear ready to join ISIS and others, judging from the interactions we have with them on the various platforms, particularly the social media.”

He continued, “As a patron of the local religious group, the student association, we tend to observe these sorts of things when we are engaged in orientation with these boys. They kind of portray extremist zeal and appear to exhibit fanaticism.”

Brainwashed Youth
He said, “They always give us a hell of time for us to really educate them about the position that what they are standing for is myopic and utopian and cannot find space in contemporary times.

“There are a whole lot of instances that abound that some of us encounter when we meet these student groups. They tend to express their attraction towards groups such as the ISIS.”

The lecturer wondered, “How many of the Ulama (Clerics) are orientated occasionally to really appreciate that some global issues are really not desirable to our Ghanaian national identity?” adding, “They have to mount the platform to educate the youth.”

ISIS Influence
He said that “Muslim extremist organizations are there but ISIS clearly is now gaining grounds more than the Al-Qaeda,” wondering “to what extent are the Ulama aware of the need that they have to start preaching against this kind of extremism?”

He added, “The way it is gaining grounds somewhere, it can find its way in our local space if we do not reach out to the youth.”

No Support
The lecturer said that “Even in the mosques, there appear to be limited activities taking place. The mosque has always been seen only as centre for prayers. There is no occasional platform created to orientate or educate the youth.

 “Those intellectuals in the Islamic community are also handicapped in the sense that unless the students themselves organize programmes or create platforms for us to speak on something of their interest, we are not able to do anything. There is no opportunity for us to have extra funding to be able to move about to give orientation to the youth about things that do not conform to the religion.”

According to him, “To a large extent, the way some of the youth express extremism in their various platforms during our engagement with them, I will say it is widespread. It is widespread because of the easy use and accessibility to ICT in various ways.

“What we are experiencing now is just consequences of modernity or globalization of technology which has made the world a small village. We have been encountering such problems when we engage with them.”

The alarm bell is currently ringing over the subtle recruitment drive for vulnerable Muslim youth in especially tertiary institutions in the country for the ISIS whose stock-in-trade is publicly beheading their opponents or those they regard as infidels.

ISIS In Retrospect
According to the BBC, the so-called Islamic State burst on to the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.

In June 2014, the group formally declared the establishment of a "caliphate" - a state governed in accordance with Islamic law, or Sharia, by God's deputy on earth, or caliph.

It has demanded that Muslims across the world swear allegiance to its leader - Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri al-Samarrai, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - and migrate to the territory under its control.

Many already have, among them several offshoots of the rival al-Qaeda network.

IS can trace its roots back to the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian who set up Tawhid wa al-Jihad in 2002. A year after the US-led invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden and formed al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which became a major force in the insurgency.

After Zarqawi's death in 2006, AQI created an umbrella organization - Islamic State in Iraq (ISI). ISI was steadily weakened by the US troop surge and the creation of Sahwa (Awakening) councils by Sunni Arab tribesmen who rejected its brutality.

Baghdadi, a former US detainee, became leader in 2010 and began rebuilding ISI's capabilities. By 2013, it was once again carrying out dozens of attacks a month in Iraq.

It had also joined the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, setting up the al-Nusra Front.

In April 2013, Baghdadi announced the merger of his forces in Iraq and Syria and the creation of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The leaders of al-Nusra and al-Qaeda rejected the move, but fighters loyal to Baghdadi split from al-Nusra and helped ISIS remain in Syria.

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