A new documentary airing in the United Kingdom called "Exposure: Jihad" is putting a new twist on the reasons young men join ISIS, alleging many are simply the products of too-strict parents, sexually frustrated and seeking the love and concern they didn't find at home.
Filmmaker Deeyah Khan spent two years interviewing dozens of convicted terrorists and former radical Islamists, finding what she said was a common theme in the reasons for their reach-outs to ISIS and other terror groups: A formidable father figure.
"ISIS Exposed: Beheadings, Slavery, and the Hellish Reality of Radical Islam" is veteran investigative reporter Erick Stakelbeck's story of the true motivations, inner workings and future plans of the new caliphate
"Nine times out of ten, look to the dad and you're going to find he did something, beat them," said said, in an interview with the Daily Beast. "I would blame the fathers absolutely."
The film looks at the radicalization of young men and women and finds many parents, especially those of South Asian heritage raising their children in the West, have been too strict and have failed to let their kids explore the normal teenage pastimes of sports and dating. Khan suggests this overbearing upbringing, which included an atmosphere of sexual repression, makes the children feel isolated, creating an environment that can give root to radicalization from outside forces.
And that's where the hate preachers and online terrorist recruiters step into the picture, she said, explaining that in many instances these terror-tied sources provide the isolated teens the care and concern they feel was missing from their own homes.
"These people end up being surrogate dads," Khan said, the Daily Beast reported. "So many of the guys, some of whom didn't want to be on camera, said the same thing: 'God, they really cared; they would call to see if you got home OK. My dad never did that,' one of the guys said."
Khan also highlighted in her film what she suggested was the trap of young Muslims living in the West with their sexual urges, where their parents' strict views stand in direct conflict to a more permissive society.
"There's a real sense of hate that you have, that I can't do that," said one film subject, Alyas Karmani, a former Islamist, the Daily Beast reported. "And that's why I find a greater sense of sexual dysfunction sometimes in Muslim communities. You know, I was talking to my wife ... and I said, 'This is all about sex, everything all comes back to sex.' And she said, 'Oh, you can't say that.' But that's it. These guys just want girls, that's all they want."
He elaborated, saying in the film the possibility of joining ISIS gives these young, sexually repressed men an escape from their parents and an opportunity to underscore their manhood by carrying firearms.
"I'm there with my gun, which is more or less just a penis extension out there," he said, the news outlet reported. "Look at me, I'm a mujahid now ... I'm powerful now, I'm sexy now, girls are going to look at me and there're girls who would want to become my bride now."