MBC drama looks at the rise of extremism amongst women

Based on real-life accounts, it focusses on Daesh and how the organisation recruits members
The show is to debut during Ramadan on MBC1.
The show is to debut during Ramadan on MBC1.

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MBC introduces Black Crows (Gharabeeb Soud), the first Arabic drama series of its kind to delve into the rise of extremism in the region, inspired by real stories and events. Debuting this Ramadan on MBC1, the socio-political series focuses on women in the terrorist organisation, Daesh (ISIS / ISIL), and the tactics used to communicate with and recruit young men and women across the Middle East and beyond.

It offers never-seen-before insights of the manipulative techniques used to take advantage of psychological, social and behavioural weaknesses. Based on true stories of real-life individuals, the show also exposes Daesh’s despicable crimes as well as its brutal methods involving repression and criminality. It sheds light on the terrorist group’s organisational structure and hierarchy of leadership, highlighting the methods it employs with its members as well as on new recruits, particularly women and children.

By exposing terrorism and the realities of its goals, analysing the abhorrent actions of its leaders and associates, Black Crows aims to shed light on the importance of proper education, awareness and prevention, as well as the value of a civilised Arab society that lives in accordance with the true teachings of Islam.

Delving further into the production, one episode involves a bus transporting a group of young girls to one of the terrorist organisation’s strongholds. Each character has a different story on how they were targeted and recruited, all of which have been inspired by real-life accounts of girls and women who joined Daesh. The episode then goes on to detail the practices of the organisation, highlighting the carefully calculated tactics, often under the guise of religion that they use to attract new members.

Black Crows offers a unique opportunity for viewers to learn about how these individuals are brainwashed, and how religious texts are adapted, distorted and or completely removed from their correct context to fulfil the terrorist group’s political ambitions. As the drama progresses, viewers will learn how women are abused, by being subjected to the so-called ‘Jihad of Marriage’ while boys and men are sent to their death with promises created from made-up fatwas.

At a later stage in the series, Black Crows explores members who are faced with the reality of the terrorist organisation, finding themselves caught in the dilemma of how to escape from the headquarters, which, over time, progresses into a psychological battlefield for the detainees.

With children becoming a key target group for recruitment by terrorist organisations, the drama details the tactics used in recruiting children, as well as how ideas are manipulated. Not only are these children subjected to the emotional isolation from their mothers, but they are also made to pledge their loyalty to the cause, stripping them of their humanity until they are converted into murderers themselves.

The programme sheds light on the all-female military brigades (Umm Al-Rayan and Al-Khansaa) and includes various women and their accounts on how they were recruited. Some are in pursuit of money and freedom, using the opportunity as a desperate escape from dire financial and social circumstances. Others are driven by the desire for adventure, only for them to quickly experience a bitter reality. And then there are those who undergo systematic brainwashing, such as via social networks exploiting religious propaganda and calling for ‘Jihad’. Other women featured include those from Western societies, who are promised one thing, only to find an entirely different reality after making the journey to the Middle East.

Undeniably, central to the Daesh terror network are the men and their leadership structure. Black Crows examines the hierarchical order, including the so-called prince, the top manager of the cell, who relies on the fatwa official, misinterpreting Hadith and verses from the Quran. Then, there’s the treasurer, who maintains the finances of the group, guaranteeing the loyalty of recruits. There’s also a focus on the child recruiter and how he prepares them for suicide missions.

The individuals involved are not immune from the other emotional aspects, and viewers can expect accounts of love, jealousy, marriage, divorce, unwanted pregnancy and other societal challenges, highlighting dramatic outcomes possibly not expected.

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