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Killing Game : Martyrdom, Murder and the Lure of Isis (Hardcover) (Mark Bourrie)
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On January 21, 2015, a pro-ISIS Twitter account reported that John Maguire, a 23-year-old university drop-out from the Ottawa Valley town of Kemptville, had been killed fighting Kurds in the Syrian city of Kobani. A few weeks before, Maguire had starred in a YouTube video threatening Canada for bombing ISIS forces in Iraq.
Just a week later, Dillon Hillier, a 26-year-old former Canadian army soldier and son of a Conservative politician, returned to his parents’ home near Ottawa after fighting in the Middle East. He had joined the Kurdish soldiers fighting ISIS and probably fought in the battle where Maguire had joined.
Why would two men who had so much in common (and with no Muslim/Arab heritage) decide to fight on opposing sides in a vicious conflict that really had little to do with them and with Canada? How did they decide which side to join?
This book is an examination of the lives of these two men, framed by the war that lured them from comfortable, ordinary lives in a quiet corner of Ontario. Why were both of these men radicalizedone by the most extreme form of Islam, the other by a desire to fight it? Why did they travel to the most dangerous part of the world to fight against each other as members of foreign armies in an ugly little war that, by the time this book comes out, may be a major war that draws in every nation and faction in the region, as well as parts of Africa?
The Killing Game delves into the lives of these two young men as a framing device to examine what draws young men and women to join violent social/political movements. It looks at the psychology of young men and women today and the propaganda used by all sides in the Middle East conflicts, as well as the security laws and the political initiatives that have been designed to stop Canadians from being radicalized. From the irresistible lure of Marxist-Leninism of the 1930s through the ’60s and ’70s, and including the appeal of Nazism to young Germans in the 1930s, this book also investigates what it is that draws young people to join and fight for causes as different as the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s and the Red Brigades of the 1970s, but with an emphasis on the attraction of ISIS and radical Islam in our own time.