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Imams to Counter IS at Sermons Following a 15-Year-Old Girl at Cape Town Being Taken off a Flight on Her Way to Join the Militant Group


By Zodidi Dano

April 9 2015

Cape Town - Eighty imams affiliated to the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) will be basing their Friday mosque sermons on the unfolding recruitment of the Islamic State (IS) and its methodology.

At the weekend, a 15-year-old girl from Kenwyn was taken off a British Airways flight at Cape Town International Airport. She was on her way to join the militant group. She was caught after leaving a trail of evidence including documents and notes in schoolbooks suggesting she had been in contact with IS recruiters. The teen had also confided in friends about her intention to join IS.

At a meeting held at the MJC offices in Athlone, the council discussed various ways of combating the aggressive IS recruitment. They focused on ways of safeguarding the community and, most importantly, young people. As part of the outcomes of the meeting it was decided that imams would base their Friday sermons on cautioning people about IS.

MJC spokeswoman Nabeweya Malick said it was important for imams to explain to their congregations that IS did not represent Islam. “It is not an Islamic state, but a political terrorist group.”

The MJC said it was trying to make contact with the Kenwyn girl’s family.

“It would be good for us to understand the methodology IS used. We need to know the avenues, how they approached her, were they upfront with her or did they pose as a friend? Do they appear enticing to teens? What is their behaviour and actions online?”

Malick said she understood that the girl’s parents could be hesitant to go public and wanted to protect their daughter.

Another issue discussed was how IS used social media to do its recruiting. Malick said social media remained a challenge and schools should be educating pupils on its dangers. “A lot can happen that could affect young people. As a community we need to be mature and responsible about it.”

Malick warned that parents should not feel comforted by merely being around their children, but must be aware of who their children were in contact with.

The religious leaders also called on the government to help with dealing with IS and its intelligence. “Religious bodies and NGOs do not have the resources that the government has.”

The Department of State Security said it would investigate who had arranged and funded the teen’s trip to the Middle East.

It was reported that her final destination was Saudi Arabia. However, some reports said she would meet recruiters in Turkey.

Saudi Arabian law prohibited women from travelling alone and they had to be accompanied by a male relative.

But for travel to Turkey visitors could apply for visas online.