On March 6, Australian authorities released information that they had detained two brothers, ages 16 and 17. The pair was detained at Sydney Airport on suspicion that they were headed to the Middle East to wage jihad alongside the Islamic State. Officials would not elaborate on what alerted them to the teens’ intentions or their exact destination, but their parents claim that they were just as shocked and surprised as everyone else.
It is not clear if or how the boys were recruited, or what they expected once they reached their destination, but according to the article posted on FoxNews.com, Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton believes that they were walking into the situation blind. He said, “These two young men, aged 16 and 17, are kids, not killers.” Dutton also said that “they shouldn’t be allowed to go to a foreign land to fight, then come back to our land eventually more radicalized.”
But how should our government deal with the issue of what are, in essence, children attempting to go fight alongside ISIS and other terror groups? What do we do with them to ensure they realize the ISIS grass is not greener?
Yep, I know what some will say. “Screw ‘em, they made the choice to go.” Others will say, “They are just kids, they don’t know what they are doing; they just need love and counseling.” Still others will use the age-old (and ignorant) solution, “Turn the whole place into a parking lot. That will take care of it.” But it will obviously take much more than any of this, or maybe a varied combination of all of them.
I don’t know the right answer. But I do know that if we don’t formulate some plan, we are going to welcome these kids back with either a too-heavy hand or a too-soft hug and we will see some of these kids back on the battlefield like certain Guantanamo guests. And I believe that first, we need to understand why they even entertain the notion of going, then how they are recruited or make contact, and why they would plan to upend their lives and leave everything behind. This might give us a clue as to what to do with them once they come home. If they come home.
First things first. I am not a psychiatrist. I cannot and will not speak to the ins and outs of the human psyche and soul. I cannot say for sure what the perfect “profile” is of a kid who is likely to make this type of choice. And I am not a lawyer, so I cannot and will not speak to the legal consequences of them attempting to go or going, or the legal consequences they’ll face once they come home. I am none of those things. But I am a father. I have three amazing kids (two girls and one boy, 18, 19 and 23, respectively), and I would like to think that also having been all three of those ages, I can speak to how some kids think and act, and how, as a parent, I would want to see my child handled if, God forbid, they pulled something like this.