ISIS and Boko Haram are two of the world’s most notorious “radical Islamic groups.” You’ll rarely – if ever – hear about these groups without also seeing terms like Islam, Muslim, radical, jihad, Quran, extremism, and so on. ISIS and Boko Haram, we are told, represent “Islamic values” intertwined with a political dimension. New documents, however, show that “members of ISIS don’t know squat about Islam.”
The Associated Press has analyzed over 3,000 questionnaires filled out by ISIS recruits. It turns out that this “radical Islamic group” is full of “Muslims” who don’t know anything about Islam. Hareetz reports:
At the height of ISISs drive for foot soldiers in 2013 and 2014, typical followers included the group of Frenchman who went bar-hopping with the recruiter back home, the recent European convert who now hesitantly describes himself as gay, and two Britons who ordered “The Koran for Dummies” from Amazon to prepare for jihad in Syria.
The Associated Press’ findings actually are nothing new. In February 2015, French journalist Didier Francois sat down with Christiane Amanpour of CNN to discuss the 10 months he spent as an ISIS prisoner in Syria. Francois told Amanpour, “There was never really discussion about texts or – it was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion.” Francois continued: “It was more hammering what they were believeing than teaching us about the Quran. Because it has nothing to do with the Quran. We didn’t even have the Quran.”
And how about Boko Haram? Bulama Modu, who the Nigerian army describes as the leading member of the “radical Islamic group,” can neither read the Quran or explain how Muslim prayers are performed, according to video footage of his interrogation seen by Anadolu Agency. “I don’t know how to read the Quran”, Modu admits in the footage, a comment that certainly throws into question his understanding of Islamic jurisprudence. He added: “I don’t know how to perform prayers either.”
Somehow, I am not surprised by any of these revelations.