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memri
April 7, 2016 No.
6380

Jordanian MP Whose Son Carried Out An ISIS Suicide Bombing Joins Fight Against Extremism

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

Muhammad Al-Dala'een, a 23-year-old medical student and the son of Jordanian MP Mazen Al-Dala'een, joined ISIS in July 2015[1] and carried out a suicide operation three months later in the city of Mosul, Iraq.[2] After learning that his son had become a member of ISIS, Mazen Al-Dala'een joined the fight against extremist ideologies and became active in preventing young Jordanians from joining ISIS and in returning those who have already joined. In an interview with a television channel associated with the Syrian opposition, he said that before his son's death, he had even asked ISIS-affiliated elements to kill his son so that he would not carry out a suicide operation.[3]

It should be noted that Muhammad Al-Dala'een is not the first son of a Jordanian MP to join a terrorist organization. In January 2015 it was reported that the 25-year-old son of MP Falah Al-'Abadi, a dentist by training, had been killed in Aleppo, Syria while fighting in the ranks of Jabhat Al-Nusra.[4]

In a December 16, 2015 interview with the online newspaper Arabi21, Mazen Al-Dala'een spoke of his son, of ISIS's recruitment methods, and of his activity to prevent young people from joining this organization in Syria and Iraq. He criticized the media for not taking an active role in fighting extremism, and called to eliminate the rhetoric of radical religious organizations.



ISIS member Muhammad Al-Dala'een (above) and his father, Jordanian MP Mazen Al-Dala'een (Twitter.com/inbry19, December 6, 2015)

The following are excerpts from the interview:[5]

My Son Was No Extremist; He Even Opposed ISIS

Q: "Let us start with Muhammad's story. How did he join ISIS?"

A: "At the beginning, Muhammad was not an extremist.  After the death last year of the Jordanian pilot Mu'adh Al-Kasasbeh [whom ISIS burned alive], Muhammad [even] carried his picture at a protest in Al-Karak Governorate, and condemned the barbaric murder. He would always talk to me about how [ISIS] is a terrorist organization with no connection to the religion.

"However, when Muhammad travelled to the Ukraine, ISIS contacted him via his foreign wife, a recent convert to Islam. A group of people, including a resident of Azerbaijan, a Chechen woman, and a Tunisian man, convinced his wife that jihad was a duty and that they had to emigrate from the lands of unbelief to the lands of 'the Islamic caliphate,' taking advantage of her ignorance of Islam and persuading her that she would reach Paradise [if they did this]. She then convinced her husband [to adopt] this ideology, and thus they shared the same beliefs.

"On the night that Muhammad and his wife travelled to Turkey, and from there on to Syria and Mosul, I visited their home in the Kharkiv area in Ukraine. Had I even the slightest suspicion that he intended to join ISIS, I would have delayed them at the airport and taken the necessary steps to stop him from joining this criminal organization.

"I remember that Muhammad and I argued that night about ISIS, and two days later I was shocked [to discover] that he had joined the organization, travelling to Turkey and from there on to Syria and Mosul. [Later I was also shocked to discover] that he had carried out an attack, as they [ISIS] claim. Their claims might all be false, because I truly do not believe their stories, which could all be a deception. Even the claim that he detonated a car bomb could be false, since when people join such organizations, they fall completely under their control and lose [their own] free will.

"I have heard stories from young Jordanians who returned from the ranks of this organization and said that ISIS members held a gun to their heads when they spoke to their families on the phone, forcing them to say that the caliphate state is the state of true and proper Islam. This is a truly criminal terrorist organization, which has deviated from the foundations of our Islamic shari'a. The principles they use deviate from all the laws of Allah."

I Work To Prevent Extremism; Media And Society Must Take A More Active Role In Combatting It

Q: "Have you seen the latest [ISIS] video featuring Muhammad titled 'Al-Walaa Wal-Baraa?" [6]

A: "Yes, I have seen it - that was why they released it, because when I returned from the airport in Turkey, I was bringing back a young Jordanian woman from Al-Karak who had been recruited by ISIS, and that angered them. In fact, I managed to bring back two young women whom I intercepted there, not just that one - there is another young woman about whom no one is talking, in order to protect her family. In addition, I helped bring back a young Jordanian man from the Irbid area, after he fled from Syria to Turkey, and I coordinated [this matter] with the Jordanian Embassy in Ankara. [I did] all this in order to protect this generation, so that they are not led astray like my son was.

"I tell you that the threats in the video will not dissuade me. This video appeared on the organization's websites nine weeks after [my son's] death, and its message was clearly aimed at me. It will not dissuade me, since I am [a member] of parliament, and since it is part of my national duty to raise awareness among the young people [regarding the dangers of ISIS].

"Therefore, I have initiated [some] lectures to raise the awareness of this generation, which could be led astray by this criminal organization, and I hope this initiative will continue at all the universities. I think my message has been fully delivered.

"I also spoke in the media, but Jordanian media unfortunately operates by mobilizing momentarily for a specific cause [and then dropping it]. Our media should play a more active role in these difficult times, in order to distance this generation from extremist and terrorist thought.

"Furthermore, we must not leave the religious discourse as it was in the past, but must take steps to generate constant dialogue on prayer, fasting, alms, etc. [to prevent ISIS from monopolizing the discourse on them]. We must [eliminate] this social disease - this cancer, I call it - and change the nature of religious discourse. We must [deal with the problem] on the ground and come up with a strategy. [At present,] when there is a problem, everyone raises an outcry for a day or two and then [forgets] about it. We must deal with this extremist ideology - which could infiltrate into every home because social media are found in every home and because there are no limits on them, and [therefore] anyone can be exposed to [the danger of] joining this  organization."

Q: "Did Muhammad's mother also see the 'Al-Walaa Wal-Baraa video?"

A: "Yes, she saw it, and Allah helped her [to cope with it]. She is hurt and pained to this day. She still mourns him every day, [finding comfort] in writing [about him]."

Social Media Are ISIS's Main Means Of Recruitment - And Via Them The Group Promises Rewards In Paradise

Q: "You said that you had managed to rescue young men and women recruited by ISIS. How were they recruited?"

A: "Social media play a central role in recruiting these young people, who visit the pages of the terrorist organization ISIS, which exploits social hardships - whether poverty or unemployment - in order to convince these young people that it will take care of them and provide for all their needs in life, including housing and money. [ISIS] specifically targets young people with certain religious tendencies, and shows them jihadi videos. It convinces them that they will reach Paradise, that their actions are in line with the shari'a, and that the jihad operations that they carry out will bring them the reward of the black-eyed virgins [in Paradise], and so on. This  persuasion does not happen overnight; it takes many months, maybe four or five months, even a year, depending on the person and how inclined he is to accept the ideology that [ISIS] offers on social media.

"One case I encountered was that of a 24-year-old medical student at the Islamic Studies University - he was an intellectual. ISIS targets educated and enlightened people such as doctors, engineers, and lawyers. It looks to these fields in order to show the world that its members are not just unemployed crooks, as others tend to think, but rather the opposite."

Q: "Are ISIS sleeper cells recruiting in Jordan?"

A: "This organization is not only in Jordan, it has sleeper cells around the world - in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and Libya. They recruit using liaisons, who could be ISIS members in Jordan using assumed names on social media - as happened with the young woman recruited in Al-Karak. A short time after they join [the organization] via the liaisons, they swear an oath of fealty to the caliph [Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi], which... means mostly that they [the young people] are now committed to the organization and must carry out its orders - to the extent that they are distanced from their families and often even ordered to kill a relative."

Q: "How do those who return from the ranks of the organization depict [it]?" 

A: "I heard the story of the young woman who returned from Turkey, and it was the complete opposite of the one to which the organization pretends. She said that the organization attaches no importance to the religion, regardless of what it presents in [its] jihadi videos. As soon as they enter Al-Raqqa [ISIS's Syrian stronghold], the young people are cut off from their families, and the organization controls all aspects of their lives, monitors their movements, and enrolls them in shari'a classes, because it is trying to brainwash them. Anyone who objects is sent on a suicide operation, she told me.

"There is also the story of the family of the young man from Al-Salt, who went to Al-Raqqa and discovered that this group [ISIS] is indecent and is distant from Islam. He tried to leave, but the organization's members discovered it, and wanted to execute him, putting the orange jumpsuit on him. However, he begged the prison guards not to kill him, saying that he was an only child; he bribed them with $3,000, fled to Turkey, returned to Jordan, and is now in prison."

There Are 3,000 Jordanians In ISIS And Other Groups Like It

Q: "Have you any information on the number of Jordanians in the ranks of ISIS?"

A: "There are no official numbers, but experts estimate that some 3,000 Jordanians are members of ISIS and [other] extremist organizations, and that some 420 have been killed. About 10 people from Al-Karak governorate have been killed, and the number of Jordanians who joined ISIS from the city of Al-Karak is over 50; most of them are in Syria."

 

[1] Arabi21.com, July 9, 2015.

[2] Al-Rai (Jordan), October 3, 2015.

[3] Alaan.tv, November 8, 2016.

[4] Al-Sabil (Jordan), January 29, 2015.

[5] Arabi21.com, December 16, 2015.

[6] See MEMRI JTTM report In ISIS Video, Son Of Jordanian MP Turned Suicide Bomber Threatens Jordanian King, MPs, December 7, 2015. Al-Walaa wal-baraa is the Islamic concept of loyalty to Muslims and rejection of non-Muslims, which is a fundamental principle of Salafi-jihadi doctrine.