21 August 2019
Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong are unlikely candidates for recruitment by Islamic State. Photo: AFP
Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong are unlikely candidates for recruitment by Islamic State. Photo: AFP

Is IS crazy enough to target Hong Kong as recruitment center?

Hong Kong may be ideal as a center for Islamic State’s recruitment and expansion, a Chinese counterterrorism expert said.

The last time I checked, IS is made up of a bunch of psychopaths who regularly taunt, torture and execute their prisoners with disturbing zeal.

Now, if reports are accurate, it’s clear that they’re also certifiably insane.

Hong Kong isn’t the United States, France or Britain, each with hundreds of citizens now in league with extremist IS fighters.

The city, arguably, isn’t even China, which the state-run tabloid Global Times reported in December had 300 nationals fighting in Iraq and Syria, mostly from the traditionally Muslim region of Xinjiang.

Hong Kong, bluntly said, has no citizens worth having.

Sure, it has disillusioned teenagers trying to find a purpose — a frequent target for recruitment by IS.

But it’s hard to see kids like Scholarism founder Joshua Wong Chi-fung — as defiant as they come but by his own admission not exactly physically intimidating — taking active part in bombings, executions, kidnappings and beheadings.

Hong Kong also has legions with low self-esteem; it is perennially near the bottom of the 10 lowest-ranked nations, just above Japan, in international surveys of confidence and dignity.

IS recruiters like that dubious quality in draftees because it makes them easy prey to near-irresistible promises of camaraderie, morale and sense of belonging — inspiration enough for many foreign fighters to burn their passports.

Still, it’s tough to imagine even “loser” Hongkongers waging jihad or wanting to die as martyrs fighting infidels.

Then there are those Indonesian domestic helpers whom IS has already been reportedly recruiting.

Get real. No maid in Hong Kong is going to pledge allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The only Pledge she’s using dusts, shines and protects and makes furniture smell lemony fresh.

Likewise, no maid in Hong Kong is going to move to the dust bowls that are Iraq, Syria or the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region to carry out acts of terrorism.

The only move she’s making is against her bitchy, abusive employer.

Nonetheless, Want China Times reports that Yang Nu, an anti-terrorism professor at Lanzhou University, says Hong Kong may be targeted by IS because it is a region with lots of Muslims.

Hong Kong is also a convenient destination to reach from Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, all countries with significant Muslim populations and threats of infiltration by IS, he said.

IS, for reference, controls territory in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria about 245 times the size of Hong Kong.

Over 60 countries are directly or indirectly waging war against IS.

Last month, seven Chinese nationals were detained in Turkey as they attempted to enter Syria, The Week reported, highlighting China’s growing problem with its Muslim minority.

Chinese officials are worried radicalized Uyghurs traveling abroad to train and fight with IS or another rebel militant group will return with skills that could bolster the country’s domestic insurgency.

The prospect of having to face returned fighters with military experience and training in laying improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks is deeply concerning to Beijing, The Week said.

Want China Times reported that the Oriental Press Group claims IS may have already infiltrated universities in Beijing, Xi’an and Guangzhou, citing reports that the terrorist organization has been targeting Muslim Uyghur students in these cities.

After being radicalized, the students would allegedly be sent off to Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand before being transferred to Syria and Iraq to fight for the self-declared caliphate.

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