Violence, kidnapping and torture have regrettably become routine in Central Asia and the Middle East over the last 20 years. This is largely due to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Syria) whose revolutionary activities are reported daily in our mainstream media, as well as ISIS social media.
ISIS propaganda paints a hypocritical picture of a powerful utopian Islamic state in order to recruit thousands of European and North American young people. Usually radicalized in their home countries, thousands of converts have pledged allegiance and service to ISIS on the battlefields of Syria or in support of its operations in many parts of the world.
Author Dimitri Bontinck, a Belgian court officer, witnesses teachers at the local ISIS organization, Sharia4Belgium, radicalize his son JeJeon, (Jay) and weave him into the web of the Islamic terrorist network. In February, 2013, Jay, an 18-year-old, deceives his parents about where he is going and makes his way to Syria where he joins Dutch and Arab fighters aligned with ISIS.
After unsuccessfully trying to trace the whereabouts of his son by phone and Internet, Bontinck is surprised to see his lost son standing in a Syrian battle zone in an ISIS-produced video. “Radical Islam had come right to the door of my home, stolen my son, and we had no laws, no formulas to stop it,” Bontinck writes. The father is convinced he has to go to Syria to bring his son home or take the chance of never seeing him again.
In this gripping autobiography, Bontinck recounts three perilous journeys to find his son and makes the reader a fellow traveler on the thick, dusty, bumpy, dangerous roads of Syria.
Bontinck finally succeeds in finding his son and the two miraculously escape from ISIS control. When he arrives home, Jay is prosecuted and sentenced to a 40-month suspended sentence for joining the terrorist organization. He receives the lightest sentence because his testimony leads to the conviction of 46 members of Sharia4Belgium.
As soon as it is known the Bontincks are home, their death-defying story becomes public. Mr. Bontinck is overwhelmed with calls from parents asking him to help retrieve their sons who have been radicalized and are presently in Syria. Bontinck cannot turn down their emotional requests, so he returns to Syria many times. He is moderately successful in finding other parents’ children and bringing them home, but also sadly learns that many of the young men have been killed in battle or beheaded for questioning ISIS authority.
Bontinck concludes his book with a call to Western nations to wake up and take measures to prevent Islamic radicalization. He also encourages mental health professionals to develop programs that will help integrate former militants back into society. He pleas for society in general to embrace reformed jihadists and welcome them into universities and employment. “Rescued from ISIS” is a stirring, personal account that takes the reader behind the scenes into Islamic terrorism and the efforts to defeat it.