They say love can conquer all. Maybe even ISIS?
An Afghani man living in Australia, who had been in contact with Islamic State recruiters for months, was going to go join ISIS until his plans were sabotaged by his girlfriend after she saw his airline tickets.
Soraya, a Lebanese-Australian high school tutor, arrived at an Australian branch of ‘Flight Centre’ crying and pleading to use the phone to call her boyfriend, Abed.
Her plan was to use a fake accent to tell him his flight was cancelled, after he would answer the call noticing ‘Flight Centre’ on his caller ID, according to The Weekend Australian.
Abed, a Muslim businessman who did not speak much Arabic and only knew a couple of verses from the Koran, according to his girlfriend, had told her he had interest in learning more about his faith and began going to lectures at the Markaz Imam Ahmad Mosque in Sydney’s Liverpool suburb.
That is where he met a man who tried luring him into the Caliphate.
After his vulnerability was determined by the Caliphate’s recruiter at the mosque, Abed was pulled into “The Crew;” groups of radicalized extremists in Australia that communicate both online and in person sharing ISIS propaganda.
At least 120 young Australians have left to join ISIS, according to the country’s foreign minister Julie Bishop, though other estimates put the number as high as 300.
Australia has one of the highest number of foreign jihadi recruits per capita, with south-west Sydney described as a “hotspot for radical recruitment.”
Wearing a niqab to cover her face, Soraya spied on Abed’s late night meetings with men in parking lots or other places she claims must have been surveilled by security cameras.
Eventually, after an argument between them about the concept of jihad in the Koran, Abed told Soraya about “The Crew” and confessed about his plans to travel to Syria.
Confronting Abed is not enough, Soraya said, who connected him with friends, family and an admired Sheik for positive support after successfully stopping him from leaving for Syria.
Abed’s recruiters had warned him that he would be killed if he ever considered turning his back on them.
Soraya’s concern for Abed, who is no longer her boyfriend, stemmed from her loss of a radicalized family member who died fighting for ISIS, and because she believed if Abed “crossed that line, he was going to go kill other people.”
Soraya and Abed’s real names have been omitted for their security.