CHANNEL 4’s undercover investigation enters unchartered territory exposing Isis recruitment schemes.

The Channel 4 documentary attempts to expose situations in which British, Muslim women reveal themselves as supporters of Isis. In the wake of the Paris attacks, the investigative programme begins by attaching the catastrophic event with the Muslim community. Hastening the reader with dynamic footage of the terrorist attack at the Bataclan theatre, the broadcast timing is made all the more appropriate.

Based in East London, the experiment kicks off with the construction of a fake Twitter account. The participant remains undercover, and is named ‘Aisha’ for the purpose of the 12 month investigation. The timid sounding, hijab-adorned agent prepares her infiltration into the unchartered territory reigned by female, ISIS recruiters by posting tweets glorifying extremist, Islamic views. By mapping herself into the world of social media, the fake profile begins to attract the intended followers.

Infiltrated: The Muslim participant gains entry into ‘secret study circles’ (Channel 4)
Infiltrated: The Muslim participant gains entry into ‘secret study circles’ (Channel 4)

The anticipation heightens as Aisha receives a much awaited invitation for a ‘secret study circle’ rooted in London. Umm L conditions the listeners with words of extremism, segregation and projects a sense of urgency to support the Jihadis in Syria. Toddlers linger around the central speaker, the young minds are exposed to the brutal nurturing of extremist views.

Audience expectations are intimately met as the leader spits discriminatory titles such as, ‘filthy Jews’. She addresses the Islamic holy book; The Quran and applies quotes detached from their context to support her calculated logic. Audience members are branded as non-Muslim if they are believed to embody British values, or any other manmade laws.

“The vocal and active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy places every single Muslim in the category of extremism.”

The documentary predominantly contributes to the fearmongering attitude directed to Muslims in the current social climate. The title itself is a giveaway as it targets ‘British Muslim’ supporters, rather than female supporters of no specified religion. The depiction of terrorism to be aligned with Islam, rather than with a demented state of mind is reinforced concurrently through the programme.

An individual misrepresentation of Islam is being painted as the core and correct interpretation. As of any other religion, believers are segregated into groups representing literalist and fundamentalist views, each as conflicting as the other. Producing this view as the correct view resulted in a distorted overlook of the religion in this programme.

‘An interpretation which promotes an Us Vs Them narrative’

The investigation effectively raises awareness of the existing techniques used by Isis to source potential female jihadis. Campaigning the issue with video evidence, rather than forcefully discouraging works as a powerful device deterring radicalisation.

In light of the three, British teenagers who left for Syria earlier this year, the programme functions as a drastic eye-opener as the undercover agent brings us the story from the oppositional stance.

Departed: Three, British teenagers arrive at a Sharia camp in Raqqa

By Henna Sheth

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