There is a fundamental cognitive dissonance in the minds of many young Muslims in Britain today. On one hand a conservative religious upbringing informs individuals that they alone have the true holy book, the true God and, of course, the true religion. This gives rise to lofty expectations for Muslim societies globally. However, the reality of contemporary Muslim societies, mired in poverty, illiteracy, violence and corruption as they are, stands in stark contrast to such grand expectations.
In the eyes of the jihadists, Muslim societies around the world are struggling today because they have been systemically undermined by western neo-colonialism and strayed from the true Islam. The solution, therefore, is to expel any semblance of western influence, along with their local stooges and puppets, and introduce a strict and harsh interpretation of Islam.
The attraction for some is then obvious since by this narrative, a struggle to understand complex geo-politics is replaced with a simplistic "one size fits all" framework. It does not require one to expend energy in difficult and searching introspection since all blame can be shifted to the perceived enemy and sinister anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.
It replaces the quest for a firm sense of identity in an increasingly globalized and, at times, disorientating world with a militant and aggressive Muslim identity that seeks conflict rather than co-existence in order to distinguish itself, be relevant and create tribal cohesion.
The steady increase in ultra-conservative Islamic mores in recent years, backed by petro-dollars from Gulf Arab States, has meant the number of young Muslims that do sympathize with the ISIS narrative is alarmingly high. After all, the ISIS reading of scripture deviates very little from the Wahabism aggressively promoted by certain Gulf States.
The over-reliance of Western states on law and war as a means of combating what is ultimately an ideological threat has meant extremist recruiters have yet to encounter a direct ideological challenge.