The case of three teenage girls from Colorado aged 15,16 and 17, who left their homes and families behind with the aim of joining ISIS has deeply concerned us. How were online recruiters able to lure the girls into following their fateful call? An FBI report released this week alleges that the girls were targeted directly via social media to the point of being provided travel instructions.
One of the girls’ father recalls his daughter being a typical high school student, who loved dancing and listening to music – until she abruptly stopped pursuing her two main hobbies, a subtle sign of her changing mind set. Immediately after it was noted that she had not shown up for school, her brother came across a disturbing Twitter conversation. “She asked her friends to pray for her because she and the other two girls….and at that time, I just knew something really bad was going to happen”he said.
Fortunately, this is a story with a happy ending: One of the parents noticed his daughter’s passport missing and contacted the authorities, who stopped the three girls at a German airport and immediately put them on a return flight to the US. We can only imagine how relieved their families felt upon their return.
In the course of our work, we have seen firsthand the horror that parents experience when their sons and daughters disappear in this way, and it is sobering to think how close these young girls came to the point of no return. Families matter and families can make a difference- stories like this one should empower families to take action when they notice early warning signs in their children. Please, don’t stay silent, reach out and seek help.