Terrorist Recruitment

Jenkins, Brian. “Building an Army of Believers.” 5 April 2007. Testimony.



Recruiting for a terrorist mission, is in essence, a campaign to spread the word of God. These campaigns are meant to show off, attract an audience, and strike fear into those who oppose the jihad. This results in the attention of the Muslim community; inviting recruits and volunteers for terrorist missions.

Al Qaeda no longer uses recruiters to spread its fingers over the Arab peninsula, instead using a loosely connected group of extremists who believe in jihad. This makes recruiting much less formal, and harder to track.

Al-Qaeda mostly relies on informal radicalization of recruits. Those who wish to volunteer for the jihad already appear radicalized before training. Terrorist organizations then use intense camps for team building, training, and military experience. These camps allow for a shared belief between recruits, as well as specific al-Qaeda planning.

However, there is a distinct difference between radicalizations and recruitment. This must be understood to realize the depth of the training undergone by recruits to organizations. Radicalization is the installment of an ideology; providing an incentive to an individual to embrace the violent jihadist nature. Recruitment is specifically training a human to become a weapon for jihadist purposes. It goes as far as introducing organization members to each other and allowing them to bond over a shared mindset. This in turn, prepares a unit for terrorist operation.

Recruitment tactics vary from country to country; in some Middle Eastern and Asian countries, recruited members are already pushed toward an ideal terrorist mindset, or follow Islam as an extremist. However, in western countries, recruitment becomes even more varied. European recruits are less assimilated into society, more easily recruited into jihadists organizations than American recruits. The United States integrates most immigrants within society, making it more difficult to find potential recruits. Those that have the potential to join a jihadist organization tend to be defunct; excommunicated from religious groups, and detached from families and communities. Those who are most susceptible to jihadist organizations tend to be searching for a justification through religion, approval, and other means.

Commitment to these groups varies, dependent on the time it takes to commit to jihadist ways, as well as the persuasiveness of the terrorist organization. Individuals may feel too pressured or uncomfortable during jihadist initiation, in turn ending their time as a jihadist, and returning to their previous life, as guaranteed by al-Qaeda or another organization. Terrorist ideologies are not for every recruit; showing the volunteers a fantasy they may have dreamed of as a bottom line.

All encompassing, Jenkins shows a true overview of the recruiting mind of a jihadist organization. Al-Qaeda, the obvious go-to for any such research provides a shining example of terrorist recruitment, as it is becoming more transparent as it further unravels under the scrutiny of western countries. Jenkins covers most aspects of recruitment, and a general scope, or lack thereof, of an individual likely to join the jihadist organization. My only argument, as in most cases I have found, is the lack of depth into online recruitment. Lacking only this one component, Jenkins solidifies my growing suspicion that terrorist organizations are made of incredibly brilliant officers who share a like-minded eye for brainwashing and control of power.

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