JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An Islamic leader in northeast Florida is voicing his disgust at ISIS, saying the group in no way represents the Islamic religion.
"Why would you go and associate with a group that is so corrupt and barbaric and backwards," said Imam Shamudeen, the leader at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. "So mindless, you throw away your life."
Shamudeen spoke on behalf of the hundreds of Muslims who pray at his center every day. When asked about ISIS, he rejected their beliefs of being the same as Islam.
"Number 1, it's because it was not founded on the proper principles of Islam of democracy, meaning for you to call yourself an Islamic caliphate, you need to do it by a process of democracy, which they didn't do," said Shamudeen
He said Islam is based on the teachings of peace and built on the foundation of six principles:
- Freedom of religion
- Value life
- Right to property
- Family values
- Preserve the mind
- Honor the individual
"It must be founded on justice, it must be very just and compassionate and merciful," said Shamudeen. "Why would a person want to start a country and just make himself the enemy to the world?"
Shamudeen said his biggest fear is the group attracting younger people.
"My community, especially the young people. For people to be tricked into supporting something that is posing as Islam but is not really Islamic," said Shamudeen. "So let it be known that saying you're a Muslim or Islamic state does not make you one."
While the Kurds seek support in the battle against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, other countries are also working to keep young people from traveling there. A growing number are being recruited by the extremists and experts said the terror group is reaching out online.
Local social media expert Dwann Rollinson said young people are seeing enticement and a sense of belonging that pulls them into the campaign.
"When you think about even gangs, it's all about what they're missing," said Rollinson.
Police said three missing girls may have been in contact with an ISIS blogger, who said in one online post, "You can find shampoos, soaps and other female necessities here, so do not stress if you think you will be experiencing some cavewoman life here."
Rollinson said there's plenty more being promised.
"If you dig deep into it you'll see that even some of the young men who were speaking to women are offering marriage," said Rollinson.
Rollinson warns parents should be monitoring their kids' phones and websites they visit. She also said they should look to see if their appearance is changing in any way.