Young American, Abdi Nur, looking like rock star in an unhappy part of the world.
Young American Abdi Nur looking like a rock star in an unhappy part of the world. Charles Mudede

One reason a young American might join ISIS, and a very important reason, is he/she might get on the cover of the New York Times! This would certainly never have happened to Abdi Nur if he had followed the narrow path, attended community college, got a job, paid his taxes and debts, raised a family, and maybe even bought some property in the Twin Cities. Mr. Nur shopped at Macy’s before departing for jihad. None of this is a real mystery. As the author Jonathan Raban said to me recently: If you do not understand the appeal of ISIS (the adventure, the loyalty, the ominous-looking clothes), then you have simply forgotten what it is to be a teenager.