Although the number of women leaving Canada to join ISIS is growing according to a government report, Lorne Dawson, co-director of the University of Waterloo’s Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society believes they are often left disappointed when they arrive.
“They are going, almost always, because they’ve established some degree of online relationship with women in Syria and Iraq, or with men, but usually more with women,” Dawson said.
The women who lure them are often mediating between the Canadian women and extremist men who are interested in marrying them, he added. The targets are typically quite young, and are seduced by talk of a life abroad “that has great meaning and purpose, and about proper moral order,” Dawson said.
Dawson found that most of the Canadian women are mostly in direct contact with other women in the conflict zones. Usually the Canadian women are targeted to marry ISIS members. They are brainwashed into believing that life with ISIS “has great meaning and purpose, and about proper moral order,” Dawson said.
“We are talking about kids who are struggling with very significant identity issues, and a desire to do something dramatically meaningful with their lives, to put it in simple terms.”
However once arriving they are usually left disappointed with the conditions of living in war zone brings.
“There is disillusionment that happens,” he said. “But often by the time that disillusionment sets in they’re been married to a foreign fighter and often even have children.”
“They’re thinking in terms of the higher religious moral order … and personally participating in something that they think will be revolutionary and world-transformative. So it is seen on their part, if we get into their mindspace, it’s seen as an act of empowerment.”