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Everything you need to know about Al Jazeera’s report on South Africans joining Isil

Images posted to social media by Abu Hurayra, purported ISIL fighter from SA. Via The Daily Maverick.

On Friday, an Al Jazeera investigation revealed that at least 23 South Africans have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State and the Levant (Isil) group. Now we know what you are thinking: why would anyone leave the comfort of DStv to go join Isil? Well, apparently they have satellite TV too.

The Al Jazeera report, by Khadija Patel and Azad Essa*, details the number of South Africans who may have traveled to Isil territory over the past year.

Here’s everything you need to know about the report:

1. At least 23 South Africans, of different ages and backgrounds, are known to have gone to Isil Land. The report says that entire families, including children, have made the journey.
Our question: What will the kids learn in Isil land?

2. Not all the people who have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join Isil are combatants.
Our question: Does this mean they went to join the group’s bureaucracy and support services?

3. Two South Africans have died in combat. Now this not new. The Sunday Tribune published a (mostly awful) piece last year ago alleging that 140 South Africans had traveled to Syria. At the time, the piece was criticised for relying on only one source and for not being able to substantiate its claims. But the piece did say that two South Africans had died in combat. The Al Jazeera story states that the family of one of the deceased men confirmed the story.
Our question: How did the family find out?

4. About “a dozen” South Africans were deported from Turkey in April after officials were tipped off they were enroute to join Isil. An official in the Turkish government confirmed this to Al Jazeera, and said they were working with the authorities in Pretoria. The South African government won’t commit to commenting on whether such a event ever happened.
Our question: When will Zuma #paybackthemoney? Because that’s when we can expect a response to any questions on this.

5. There are Isil recruiters in South Africa. The story does not offer details, except to suggest that there are people actively recruiting in South Africa: online, and perhaps on the ground.
Our question: Don’t parents teach their kids not to talk to strangers any more?

Has anyone tried to recruit you to join Isil? How did they attempt to sell it to you? Do you understand why a South African would travel to join Isil? Let us know – anonymity guaranteed.

DStv jokes aside, Isil targets vulnerable people and is known for human rights abuses like throwing people off high buildings; stoning people; beheading people; setting people on fire; buying, selling, raping and enslaving women; and turning kids into child soldiers. If that sounds enticing to anyone, they should probably book a session with a therapist – not a spot on a plane to Turkey.

– Featured image: Images posted to social media by purported South African Isil fighter Abu Hurayra, via The Daily Maverick.
– Editor’s note: Khadija Patel and Azad Essa are both executive editors at The Daily Vox.

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