A Finnish teenager using the pseudonym Abdullah has revealed in an interview with Newsweek that he has disseminated propaganda for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).
Abdullah reveals that he ran the second most popular English-language pro-Isis Twitter account, @Mujaahid4Life, and describes himself as a former diplomat for the notorious terror group. He has since turned his back on Islamic extremism.
“The Internet is such a huge part of recruiting these days,” he tells the American weekly. “For the kids who do this, it's easy to conceal.”
Abdullah may have taken off to Syria himself in the summer of 2013 had it not not been for an intervention by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo), which had monitored his online activities and urged him to stay home.
Newsweek writes that Abdullah grew up in an atheist home in Finland and became interested in religions as a teenager. He independently converted to Islam in 2012 and quickly developed an interest in the online propaganda disseminated by al-Qaeda, connecting especially with the supporters of its Syria-based branch, Jabhat al-Nusra.
As someone who had been bullied in primary school, he was attracted by reports of the oppression experienced by Muslims and the sense of being part of something important. After al-Qaeda and Isis turned on each other in Syria, he chose his side and began to support Isis.
“You disseminate that propaganda, so it makes you feel part of something bigger. Especially after Isis declared the caliphate,” he says.
Isis took control of the second largest city in Iraq, Mosul, in 2014, and declared an Islamic caliphate in the territories under its control in Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, the terror group continued to plead with Muslims across the world to join it in its struggle.
Abdullah distanced himself from his fellow acolytes after the beheading of Alan Henning, a humanitarian aid worker from the United Kingdom, by Isis in October 2014 and after failing to find justification for the murder in classic Islamic texts.
He no longer subscribed to the world view peddled by Isis.
“When I was in that Isis bubble, I was thinking so emotionally,” he says. “When you're younger you don't have the intellectual capabilities to process it. It was an obsession, just blind devotion.”
Abdullah returned to Twitter after a several month hiatus as an adversary of Islamic extremism and reveals that he wants to help others swayed by the extremist propaganda to do the same. “My message to young people is go back to Islamic roots, stop living in the bubble,” he says according to Newsweek.
Matti Koskinen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
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