ISIS is a new type of terrorist group. Where Al-Qaeda was satisfied with the simple joys of slaughtering infidels’ children and destroying their propaganda machines, ISIS actually wants our kids to join them—and they’re happy to use Twitter to do it. The really strange part is that it works. People from first world countries actually listen to ISIS and willingly leave their homes in pursuit of the better life that they imagine comes with living with a terrorist group in a Syrian slum.
Thanks to Twitter and their letters home, we get to hear these people talk about their experiences. As it turns out, terrorist recruits have the same first world problems as a freshman on vacation in South America.
10 No Starbucks
A Russian terrorist who calls herself “Green Bird of Dabiq” is being heavily monitored by the Middle East Media Research Institute, and she has given them a unique view into the hardships of terrorist life. For example, ISIS doesn’t have a Starbucks.
It’s not entirely clear what Green Bird thought she was getting herself into when she joined an anti-imperialist Islamic terrorist cell, but apparently, she was still hoping that Starbucks would be exempt from the whole “death to America” thing. She tweeted: “I know it may be shirk but sometimes I do miss Starbucks. The coffee here is beyond wretched.”
It’s not what you’d expect a terrorist to be complaining about, and it’s not even an isolated incident. There are whole groups of people who have journeyed into the desert, eager to strap bombs to their chests, only to turn back when they discovered that the armory didn’t serve lattes. Another fighter Belgian has indignantly tweeted that the food ISIS serves is “urgh so disgusting” and complained, “When I came to the state, I made it very clear the first day, ‘Sorry, I don’t like Arab food.’ ”
And those are just the few who will risk complaining. ISIS members aren’t supposed to be complaining online, which means that these people may be risking their lives just to convey how disappointed they are to find out that ISIS doesn’t have a Starbucks or a McDonald’s.
9 Everybody There Is Muslim
Marlin Nivarlain joined ISIS because her boyfriend was into it. It all started when the Swedish teen caught her boyfriend watching ISIS recruitment videos, mulled it over, and decided, “This is probably fine. There’s nothing wrong with this.”
When her boyfriend announced that he wanted to move to Syria to declare war against the Great Satan, she didn’t want to seem like a stick-in-the-mud. After all, there’s nothing worse than a girlfriend who puts up a fuss every time you try to spice up your relationship by adding terrorism to the mix, so she went along with him. Nivarlain wasn’t a Muslim; in fact, she didn’t even know what a Muslim was.
In her own words, being a member of ISIS was “really hard.” That’s a reality that most people would expect, but to Nivarlain, it came as a complete surprise. She struggled for months before she managed to get access to a telephone. She then called her mother and said she wanted to go home.
She couldn’t, though. She wasn’t allowed. In the end, she managed to escape with the help of the Kurdish army in an operation that remains secret. She came back pregnant with the child of a fanatical extremist and hopefully with a basic understanding of world politics.
8 The Salons Aren’t Stylish Enough
Surprisingly enough, ISIS attracts its fair share of women. While they adjust to their new lives of wearing burkas and following strict interpretations of sharia law, they all look for one thing—hair styling products.
ISIS blogs and message boards are full of new arrivals complaining about the surprising revelation that the fashion choices in Syria are a little more limited than those in Europe. One woman posted a complaint that, “The style here isn’t really that nice and their makeup most of the time goes towards the clowny look.” She went on to recommend to any other women in ISIS that they get their fashion looks done by friends. Another woman sent a tweet of a shampoo bottle with the grumbling complaint, “No good at all.” She was apparently furious that her hair was coming out a bit frizzier than she’d hoped.
The strangest part, though, is that there are solutions. ISIS girls share tips on where to get eyebrows plucked, what shampoos to use, and where to get extensions. Apparently, just because you’re covered from head to toe doesn’t mean that you have to look ragged underneath.
7 The Men Aren’t Respectful To Women
If you want to live in a place where women are respected as equals, where should you go? If you answered, “An ISIS training camp,” you’re insane, but apparently, you’re also not alone. Migrants from the first world to ISIS will actively complain about the way they are treated by men. They were apparently under the impression that they were joining a group known for its progressive views on women’s rights.
An interaction between ISIS members over Twitter gives a weird look into this: A woman named Muhajira Umm Hamza tweeted:
Seriously, I am getting so tried of many men muhajirin now. I feel harassed so often now. Women can’t do this or that. What is the point?
She then went on to complain that the men “scream and talk to us in the street” and that “there is so little respect” for women in ISIS. Muhajira was somehow convinced that male ISIS members were famous for their respect of women’s rights. She specifically left the West because she thought men in ISIS would be more respectful to women and had written that the reason she’d done so was “to get rid of rude behavior.”
It’s safe to assume that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi didn’t send the offending men to a workplace sensitivity seminar or issue a memo reminding all terrorists of their commitment to equal rights.
6 They Don’t Let You Smoke
In 2014, ISIS had to crack down on its members that were doing things considered haram, or against the teachings of Islam. Partly, this was a war on drinking and swearing, but the biggest target was smoking, a rule they took so seriously that senior members were beheaded for breaking it.
ISIS began to round up and burn cigarette packs to show how serious they were, burning millions of packs by time they were done. They also set up a punishment system, doling out 40 lashes to those who get caught smoking once . . . and executions for those who couldn’t stop. For a lot of members, it was too much to handle. There were willing to kill and die for the cause, but they weren’t willing to stop smoking? They had to draw the line somewhere.
Reportedly, some members would sneak across the border just to take a few drags off a cigarette without getting caught. At least one man, though, gave up altogether. A French citizen named Flavien Moreau was unwilling to give up smoking. He dropped his gun, ran home, and accepted seven years in prison for terrorism—all so he wouldn’t have to put down his cigarette.
5 They Don’t Wait In Line
One day, a British man named Omar Hussain decided that he’d had enough of his life working in a supermarket and that he wanted a change. Presumably, he couldn’t afford a trip to the Bahamas, and so, instead, he joined ISIS. However, after struggling through a life in a place of beheadings and murders, he got fed up. He logged onto his blog and complained about the injustice that surrounded him. “There is no queue!” he complained.
Hussain went into a rant about all the rude things that Syrian members of ISIS do which wouldn’t be considered civilized back in England. He protested that he could be waiting in line for hours only to have somebody cut in front of him. Also, people wouldn’t wait their turn when he was serving them food, and they’d unplug his phone while it was charging. He also detailed the struggle of people stealing his shoes. According to Hussain, it’s standard practice for a Syrian ISIS member leaving a mosque to grab any old pair of shoes and head off without worrying about who’d worn them on the way in.
It’s a weird glimpse into how the people who are trying to kill us are struggling through the same petty frustrations that we are. In the end, these frustrations must not have weighed too heavily on Hussain. The next day, he was right back on topic with a post about why the UK should be bombed off the map.
4 The Internet Is Too Slow
Some of ISIS’s Western members can’t take it, and they go home. For one person, life in Syria had become too brutal and the hardships too much to bear. He wrote to his parents announcing that it was time to go home. “I’m fed up,” he told them. “I have to come back.” And he told them why: “My iPod doesn’t work.”
He might appear to be an unusual example, but evidence suggests that he isn’t. People who willingly fly to Syria to become militants for ISIS spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about how the technology in the third world isn’t quite up to par. Members will regularly take to Twitter to complain about the phone reception and the Internet speed. One protested that that “the internet is slower than irans nuclear program,” while another complained that she had to go to roof of her building to get good cell phone reception.
3 There Aren’t Enough Beheading Videos
So, what do ISIS members do on the Internet? The answer is surprisingly similar to how we pass the time. Just as we clamor online with our predictions about what might occur in the next season of Game of Thrones and eagerly count down the days to the next episode, members of ISIS excitedly discuss their favorite program—beheading videos.
You may have seen some of these yourself. Videos of Jihadi John executing innocent civilians are part of what made the terrorist group so well-known and hated, and there’s nothing that boils the blood of an American more than knowing that a new one’s been released. However, ISIS members apparently love them.
When ISIS announced in 2015 that they would stop making them, people became angry. ISIS members actually complained that they were being let down. Word eventually spread that a new one was coming out, and the terrorists were outright excited about it. They started to gossip about them and make predictions, saying things like, “I heard that Jihadi John himself might be in this one!” Then, nothing came, and people were furious. Members went on Twitter and started taunting ISIS’s media institute with angry messages of, “We’re waiting!”
As it turns out, ISIS is strangely similar to a group of fanboys demanding to know when George R.R. Martin will finish The Winds of Winter and delight over the shocking deaths and bloodshed. They just happen to be less interested in the fantasy part.
2 It’s Boring
France has supplied a shocking number of jihadists to ISIS, but they’re starting to get fed up. About 100 have headed back to their home country, disgusted with the terrorist organization, but not because of the killings; they’re just bored.
As it turns out, joining ISIS doesn’t mean that you’ll be sent to the front lines. Even ISIS members need to eat food and wear clothes, and a good number of people find themselves doing just that. One jihadist sent a letter home saying, “I’ve basically done nothing except hand out clothes and food,” while another complained that they made him “do the washing up.”
Some become frustrated enough with the monotony of life working for the most dangerous organization in the world and head home. They’re sent to prison when they get back, but they seem to be aware that this is the homecoming they’ll receive. ISIS is apparently more boring than prison.
1 They Want You To Fight
Sometimes, working for ISIS isn’t boring. Not everyone does the washing up; some people do fight. And some aren’t quite ready for that reality. At least one person wrote home with a desperate letter, telling his parents, “They want to send me to the front, but I don’t know how to fight.”
It’s not entirely clear why this person left a comfortable life in France if he wasn’t ready to fight, but his situation might not be as weird as it sounds. All we see on the news is the terror of ISIS, but the organization invests heavily in propaganda campaigns that depict the Islamic State as an Islamic utopia full of hospitals and every public service. Also they invite more than just militants. ISIS tries to attract families and children, too, so much so that they’ve actually created theme parks to lure them.
When people get there and realize that the Islamic State isn’t the utopia they envisioned, though, the ending isn’t funny; it’s tragic. In one month alone, ISIS lined up 120 fighters from overseas who wanted to go home and shot them.
So, stay home, Listverse readers. Don’t join ISIS, no matter how cool their theme parks are.
Mark Oliver has previously told us about Terrible Ways People Recreated Movies in Real Life and Sci-Fi Dystopias that are Everyday Realities Today. He can be visited online here.