Magnetic pull of IS terror group

Written By komlim puldel on Selasa, 19 Agustus 2014 | 20.01

The Islamic State militant group sends a message to the United States via social media saying we will drown all of you in blood. Gavino Garay reports.

Australian-born IS member Khaled Sharrouf and boys believed to be his sons stand in front of the Islamic State flag in an image posted on Twitter. Source: Supplied Source: Twitter

IT IS the growing group of militants that has struck fear into the hearts of people across the world.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State, has taken over large tracts of Iraq and Syria and managed to recruit members from throughout the world to its jihadist cause.

Most chilling locally has been the participation of Australians Khaled Sharrouf and Mohammed Elomar, who have both joined the fighting in Syria. They appalled the world by posting violent images to Twitter of them with beheaded bodies and a particularly gruesome one of Elomar gleefully holding up the two severed heads of his enemies.

Their social media campaign reached shocking new lows last week when Sharrouf shared a photograph of a boy believed to be his son holding up a severed head.

Horrific … A boy security agencies believe to be the son of Australian Khaled Sharrouf holds the decapitated head of a soldier in the Syrian city of Raqqa. Source: Supplied Source: Twitter

So how has the terror group managed to be so effective in attracting new recruits to its terrifying cause?

University of Massachusetts psychologist John Horgan has provided a powerful analysis to Science of Us about how ISIS has been so successful at seducing new members.

He said no terrorist group had ever had the numbers of ISIS and that its rise was the most astonishing thing he had seen in his 20 years studying terrorism.

"People who join these groups are trying to find a path, to answer a call to something, which would basically mean that they're doing something meaningful with their lives. That is a common denominator across the board," Prof Horgan told Science of Us.

"You often see recruits are driven by this passionate need to right some perceived wrong, to address some sort of injustice, to restore honour to those from whom it's been taken."

Wanted man … Warrants have been issued for the arrest of former champion boxer Mohamed Elomar (pictured) and his terrorist ally Khaled Sharrouf. Source: Supplied

He said ISIS was unlike any other terror group in history.

"It holds very, very broad appeal to both converts and natural-born Muslims alike. In the eyes of potential recruits, this is fantasy made reality. It's everything that a would-be jihadist could have hoped for," he said.

RELATED: ISIS video: 'We will wipe America off the map'

RELATED: Mohamed "Moey" Elomar goes from celebrated boxing champion to wanted terrorist

Prof Horgan said ISIS was so effective at propaganda and recruitment that he called the group "masters at packaging the fantasy deal".

"They're offering an opportunity for people to feel powerful, They're making disillusioned, disaffected radicals feel like they're doing something truly meaningful with their lives," Prof Horgan said.

Australian-born terrorist Khaled Sharrouf, who slipped out of the country unnoticed on his brother's passport. Source: Supplied

And he offered an explanation of the shocking Twitter pics that had baffled and appalled Australia.

"Looking at these selfies and YouTube videos, they offer an opportunity for people to take refuge in a group mentality, but also a chance for people to scowl back at their home countries and say, 'Now I have the chance to speak my mind' … (IS are) not just offering a message, but they're also offering a physical place where this fantasy can be lived out," Prof Horgan said.

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