“The Words of Allah, The Quran, that’s what brain washed me,”

The New York Times features a lengthy account of how young American Muslims find their way to Islamic State (ISIS), and you would never guess what they discover: Islamist religious fervour plays the decisive role. 

The story follows one College kid from Minneapolis in particular, Abdi Nur, now an ISIS fighter in Syria:

Early last year, he began posting stern religious pronouncements and snippets of scripture. By April 2, a day after turning 20, he hailed Islamic fighters: “If the sky would be proud of the existence of the stars, the land should be proud of the existence of the Mujahideen.”
On May 29, the day he disappeared, he posted, “I Thank Allah For Everything No Matter What!” Soon he was in Turkey, rebuffing his mother’s and sister’s anguished pleas to come home. In late July, he declared, “What A Beautiful Day in Raqqa,” the de facto capital of the Islamic State in Syria. Last Aug. 7, he posted a picture of himself online with his finger on the trigger of a Kalashnikov.

If you can discern any geopolitical angst, you're doing better than me. 

But surely Nur was an outcast from society; a victim of the West's socioeconomic and racial oppression? Let's see:

Mr. Nur was enrolled in community college outside Minneapolis and spoke of becoming a lawyer. Then he started visiting a new mosque and dressing in more traditional garb.

Hmm. Then I assume Nur was the exception that prove the rule that ISIS fighters are motivated by factors other than religion? Well, not according to this report: 

Most of the American ISIS volunteers display an earnest religious zeal, usually newfound. 
....
Ms. Agron also found a young woman who calls herself Chloe, a Muslim convert from San Francisco who appears to have married a Welsh fighter who joined the Nusra Front. Both posted pictures of their cat on Twitter, along with expressions of marital devotion. Chloe’s posts are mostly religious exclamations or lighthearted remarks about her life in Syria, including the niqab, or face veil.

In case there is any remaining doubt about why Abdi now roams Syria as an ISIS killer, here is an online exchange between him and former school friends.

“Who brain washed you?” one asked.
Mr. Nur was unfazed. “The Words of Allah, The Quran, that’s what brain washed me,” he wrote.