With the news that three teenage girls have been detained and returned home after apparently trying to run away and join ISIS, Americans have a whole new thing to freak out about: your damn kids signing up for global jihad. Three girls from Colorado, aged 15, 16, and 17, were apprehended at Frankfurt airport in Germany yesterday, returned to the U.S. into FBI custody, and were then released after reportedly telling the FBI they had planned to join ISIS.
Luckily, cable news is responsibly and helpfully offering tips to parents who wish to avoid this pervasive problem, as NBC News Terrorism Analyst Evan Kohlmann demonstrated on last night's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell:
"If your child is browsing suicide bombing videos on their computer, if they're watching beheading videos and they're laughing about it. these are things to take seriously."
So, parents, you shouldn't treat laughing at beheadings the way you would treat, say, dressing like Emily the Strange and tongue-piercing. Thanks for the tip, Evan.
In Kohlmann's defense, the three girls aren't the first teens to try and join ISIS, and they're not even the first teens from Colorado to do this. In April, 19 year-old Shannon Maureen Conley was arrested at Denver International Airport trying to fly to Syria to meet her online ISIS boyfriend, and pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge in September. In her case, the warning signs included "shooting targets labeled with the number of rounds fired and the distance they were fired on," and reports she was casing her local church for an attack.
Two teenage girls from Austria actually succeeded in joining ISIS in April, and are reportedly now incubating terror-babies and wishing they could go home, and Australian 17 year-old Abdullah Elmir is the star of an ISIS propaganda video in which he threatens to bathe the West in blood and Proactiv. Also this month, 19 year-old Mohammed Hamzah Khan was arrested in Chicago trying to join ISIS.
All of these incidents are now being used to stoke fear, which has always been a potent drug, but which is enjoying crack-heyday-esque popularity this election season. If Ebola doesn't get you, your teen's angst will. What's comforting about all of this is that, once you've got the travel arrangements down, it seems pretty damn easy to join ISIS. How hard, then, could it be for U.S. intelligence agencies to infiltrate an organization that's easier to get into than a high school kegger? Here's hoping we're working on some sort of jihadi 21 Jump Street as we speak.