Friday night, March 31, CNN broadcast “ISIS: Behind the Mask”, a special report with Clarissa Ward interviewing Michael Delefortrie, 28, now living in Belgium, who was raised as Catholic but left Belgium to go to Syria and fight with ISIS in his mid twenties and returned.
European authorities are very concerned about returned fighters. But except for a brief jail sentence, Michael has stayed out of trouble. He uses Europe's free speech to spread his ideas. He also happily excepts welfare from the state for income.
“I am not a Belgian, I am a Muslim”, he maintains.
He denied killing anyone while with ISIS and says he will not use violence at home.
However, he wants Europe and the U.S. and the entire world to be brought under Sharia law.
He did start using drugs and getting bad grades in school as a teen. Muslim laws seemed to give him an absolute sense of morality and a group to belong to.
He regards Osama bin Laden as a hero, and says historical figures should not be downgraded in judgement for killing people.
In general young men (and women) with some petty crime and drug use and a psychology of wanting to fit in to a warrior group sound more vulnerable to cult-like radicalization. Also relevant is a desire to see others have to follow the same rules of living that they think have been imposed on them, as this seems to make their lives (and potential marital relationships) more exciting and meaningful.
Micheal is married and wants his son to be a fighter. The documentary mentioned some domestic abuse. He is tall, slender, very "white", and wears a beard without mustache.
Michael spoke in absolute terms, that everything is for Allah and that Allah alone will judge whether the violent actions of people suit His purposed. He did not question why one source of scriptural authority (like the Koran) is more valid than another (the Bible). He showed no sense of epistemology.
Later the broadcast showed an experiment with recruiting online. CNN went undercover and got 223 strangers wanting to be “friends”, from Belgium and France. Several wanted to go underground with conversations on Telegram . Seeker has an article on this matter here.
There was discussion of “Sharia4Beligum”.
Wikipedia attribution link for Atomium in Brussels, under CCSA 3.0.