Simon Cottee

Academic and Author

Vice

Why ISIS Are Using So Many Children in Their Propaganda Videos

The so-called Islamic State has seemingly done the impossible: earlier this month it released what is arguably its most shocking and abhorrent atrocity video yet. This is quite a statement, of course: ISIS has made a lot of truly shocking and abhorrent atrocity videos. Some of these depict mass beheadings, burnings, drownings and stonings – all in horrible high definition close-up. The new video, titled "Made Me Alive with His Own Blood", features the murder of a broken and defenceless man at the hands of a three-year-old boy. A. Three. Year. Old.

31st Jan 2017

How a British College Student Became an ISIS Matchmaker

In March of last year, less than two months after arriving in Syria, Umm Muthanna al-Britannia tweeted a picture of herself wearing a burqa and brandishing an AK-47. It was captioned: "Living the life of real freedom." Yet not so long ago she was enjoying a very different kind of freedom, hooking up with guys, wearing make-up, and listing her favorite activities online as: "Jamin wid my gyalsz, Sleepin, Munchin, & SmoOkiin."

20th Dec 2016

What It Feels Like to Lose Your Kids to ISIS

In February of 2015, three east London schoolgirls absconded to Syria and vanished into the block caps of international headline news. Less than three months earlier, in November of 2014, Qadirah and Muhammad Roach just vanished. The three east London schoolgirls prompted a global outcry, and not a little hysteria about the power and potency of Islamic State propaganda. But Qadirah and Muhammad – whose journey to Syria began from the Caribbean Island of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) – didn't even make it onto the front page.

13th Oct 2016

Tracking the Online Life of a Female British ISIS Recruiter

Who is the woman in black brandishing an AK-47? She goes by the nom de guerre Umm Muthanna al-Britannia – Umm being an honorific Arabic word for mother, despite the fact it seems Umm Muthanna herself is childless.
I have been tracing her online footprint for almost a year, and it is fascinating for the light it casts on the strange and violent subculture of the approximately 600 women who have abandoned their lives and loved ones in the west for the so-called "Islamic State".

I Escaped an Arranged Marriage

A few months ago, Amina left home. She was due to marry her father's friend: a man from Yemen nearly three times her age. The thought of it terrified her. She had expressed deep reservations from the start, but her father – a well-known sheikh in Canada with a large international following – was adamant that she was to be married and had initiated the sponsorship process to bring her prospective husband over from the Middle East.

How Islam Inspired the 'Charlie Hebdo' Attacks Doesn't Matter

Unlike recent jihadi hits in the West, where lone – or, as Max Abrahms perhaps more accurately calls them, "loon" – wolves have carried out terrorist attacks in a bid for death and martyrdom, the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo last week was a hit-and-run, not a suicide mission. A hit-and-run where the emphasis was on the killing, not the dying.

Beheading People Made the Islamic State

The beheading of western civilians is the cocaine of global jihadi warfare. It doesn't just inflict death and terror on its victims; it radiates a God-like potency and fanaticism, which excites and galvanises not only the jihadis who stage it but also the "wannabes" outside their ranks who are awed by the spectacle of jihadi bloodletting.

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