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Jihadists Using Matchmaking Sites to Find Partners

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The matchmaking site IslamicMarriage.com helps Muslims around the world find partners through the Internet.

It is also becoming a recruiting tool for Islamic State terrorists.

New Zealander Mark Taylor appears to be a usual single man. He has a dating profile on IslamicMarriage.com. It says he works as a teacher and has a “good sense of humor.”

It also says he lives in Raqqa, Syria -- a center of the Islamic State group.

U.S. officials listed Taylor as an international terrorist earlier this year. He is one of several fighters in Syria and jihadist supporters in Europe and the U.S. with dating profiles on the site.

On IslamicMarriage.com, Taylor calls himself Abujohndaniel. He says he arrived in Raqqa 10 months ago.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is a policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. The group says it first noticed jihadist activity on IslamicMarriage.com last May. Anat Agron is a researcher there. She believes that efforts by social media sites to block IS militants -- along with increased attention from Western intelligence agencies -- forced some jihadists to turn to dating sites.

“Previously Twitter and Facebook were more popular options for marrying off jihadists,” Agron told VOA. “I think that many realized these options were increasingly unsafe, and some folks probably got thrown in jail.

IslamicMarriage.com is owned by the World Singles group. Other World Singles sites include ArabWorld, IranianPersonals and EligibleGreeks.

Observers say that the jihadists’ use of the dating site may suggest it is becoming harder for IS members to find people to marry. The number of mainly young Western and North African women traveling to Syria to marry fighters appears to have gone down, they say.

It is not clear how many Western women have traveled to the area to become jihadi brides. Britain’s Institute of Strategic Dialogue estimates the number at about 500.

VOA's Jamie Dettmer reported this story from London. It was adapted for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Words in This Story

matchmaking - n. the act of trying to bring two people together so that they will marry each other

recruit - v. ​to find suitable people and get them to join a company, an organization, the armed forces, etc.​

jihadi - n. a person involved in a jihad; an Islamic militant.

profile - n. ​(on a social media website or application) a user's summary of their personal details ​

date - v. ​to do an activity with someone you have or might have a romantic relationship with : to go on a date or several dates with (someone)​

option - n. ​the opportunity or ability to choose something or to choose between two or more things​

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