I chose to do my third critique on a Washington Post article regarding three Muslim teens who were arrested at the airport

ISIS has captured the headlines through severe and drastic measures these past few months. Murder seems to be all the Islamic State does, that and recruit young Muslims through social media. Washington Post’s Kevin Sullivan covered the story of three American teens who were arrested at the airport for attempting to leave the country to join the terrorist efforts.

“Three American teens, recruited online, are caught trying to join the Islamic State” functions as both the title and the lead of the article since the author chose a narrative style. The article’s focus is more on the effect the situation has had on the parents and their dismay about the radical stunt their children attempted than on the teens who committed the crime. “We were stunned,” said Zarine Khan, their mother. “More like frozen. We were just frozen.”

The article is broken up into four segments:

1) The introduction explains what the teens did the morning of the arrest from collecting their new passports and $2,300 plane tickets to taking their daily trip to the mosque before 6am.  Sullivan creates the scene well, forcing the reader to realize the sneakiness of their plan while their parents were at home oblivious.

2) “Slick Propaganda” is the section that lays down the facts of the situation at hand and introduces the important numbers. The inclusion that in 2014 alone 15 youth have been arrested at the airport with the same intentions as the Khan teens. 9 of which were females. The FBI director describes this “slick propaganda” by explaining that the Islamic State is broadcasting their information in 23 languages on social media. They are recruiting children as young as 14. These numbers are key to the article’s purpose because it draws attention to a growing problem. These are facts, not blown up assumptions.

3) “These are not our teachings” gives a voice to the parents to explain that they did not raise their children in a religious extremist environment and their newfound goals are not any they would have picked up from their family or friends. Sullivan inserts quotations from Muslim community leaders as well that give insight into the kind of parenting that the Khan family used and the style of several other Muslim families. This served as a base for contrast, showing that the Khan family really had done all they could do.

4) Lastly, “letters full of rhetoric” is the mother’s last plea for people to understand that she did not raise her children his way. The words they used in their letters to her were fueled by the Islamic State. She believes they have been brainwashed somehow.

Overall, the article covers several questions one might have about the inside situation of a family dealing with this nightmare. Sullivan had to approach the subject with some caution as to not spark a fire of extreme patriots  and for people to actually continue reading. The breakdown of the article helped guide the reader through a lengthy process of understanding. I enjoyed the read and while I feel there was no bias on the author’s part, it is hard not to feel the heart strings pull when the main focus of the article is a mother’s heartbreak.

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