The graphic video showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley revealed a disturbing reminder that the Islamic State militants had recruited members of foreign nationalities.
In the video, the man dressed in black was speaking with a distinct British accent—an unsettling reminder that the ISIS has the power of persuasion for being able to recruit fighters across different countries.
The Australian government had been terribly concerned about the threat that Australians fighting with the ISIS may be back in the country and conduct terrorist acts.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott had already announced a proposal to toughen laws related to travelling to Middle East and other conflicted areas. The proposal also involved giving intelligence agencies more access to metadata.
However, Dr. Anne Aly, a counter-terrorism expert at Curtin University, said tougher laws should come with softer strategy to address home-grown terrorism.
Speaking with ABC's "RN Breakfast" programme, Aly highlighted the root to the whole ISIS problem is the group's propaganda. She said most of the recruits were young men who do not perceive the decision of joining the group as a bad thing. Rather, they are fuelled by the passionate desire to change the world.
"This is how IS packages their propaganda: all Muslims should be one; the whole Muslim community is under threat from corrupt Muslim leaders in Muslim lands and the west; we need to protect the Muslim community; and we need to do that by establishing this caliphate, which is an Islamic state for all Muslims. The way to do that is to fight for it," Ally explained.
She highlighted that all counter-terrorism strategy should address the question as to why young Australians being recruited were receptive to the message of jihad.
She said that in order to address the problem of ISIS and stop the group from recruiting more members, organisations have to understand what it is about this jihadist movement that appeals to the recruits.
"Underlying all this is a mentality, this victim identity that is used as a kind of springboard for the idea that you have to protect your Muslim community. Victimhood is a very powerful call for collective action," Aly expounds.
As way of example, Aly said she once asked her 24-year-old Muslim son, who grew up in an Islamic community in Sydney, why he is not joining the fight. His son's response was simple: "I'm not angry at the world."
Meanwhile, the mother of Foley, Diane, is pleading for the ISIS to spare the lives of remaining hostages. She said that like her son whom she fondly calls Jim, the other hostages are innocents. The hostages got nothing to do with how American policy in Iraq and Syria were implemented.
She said he had never been prouder of her son as he died exposing to the world the suffering of the Syrian people.
AFP chairman Emmanuel Hoog also spoke of James as brave, independent and impartial journalist. Hoog said that nothing could justify his incarceration or any threats against his life.