PETALING JAYA - Photographs of abe hensem (good-looking men) are apparently being used to lure young and impressionable girls to join militants in Syria.
The recruiters appear to be cashing in on raw sex appeal to woo gullible girls.
One of the Facebook operators, known as Abu Chechnya in Russian, put up photographs of Chechen militants in Syria and blatantly asked: "Ada yang berkenan ke kat dalam gambar tu??? Abam2 shishani handsome2 wowww hahaha!!! (Interested in any in the picture? The men here are handsome)."
Clinical psychologist Assoc Prof Dr Alvin Ng said generally teenagers tended to be short-sighted and drawn to whatever attracted them.
"Hot-blooded girls and hot guys, especially those from troubled homes, may be drawn to a sense of adventure as they try to escape to what they believe would be a better place," he said.
The recruiters could also be playing on their psyche by telling them that they were the chosen ones and making them feel special.
"Youngsters who feel like an outcast in their own home or community may feel that they belong elsewhere, and will likely go," he said.
Dr Ng said it was not fair to blame the education system when youngsters from Malaysia felt driven to take up arms in other countries.
"This can even happen to young people and adults in developed countries, as the advent of information and communications technology has made it possible for the shadowy characters to recruit militants from all corners of the world."
Dr Ng noted that the onus would be on parents and guardians to help children understand the consequences of their actions.
"They must make their children feel valued and appreciated, so that they would not be easily swayed to leave home.
"Just like in a workplace, if an employee is made to feel appreciated, he or she may not easily jump ship," he said, adding those contemplating on embarking on such dangerous ventures should think before acting.
"If you hear stories and see troubling pictures on social network, take a step back, do not react, and ponder who benefits when the problem flares up.
"By reflecting on it, it will help one understand the bigger picture," he pointed out.
Dr Ng said conflicts were easily inflamed when people reacted angrily to situations.
"Troubling pictures and stories are meant to hurt feelings and invoke negative reactions," he said, adding that propagandists usually played with people's emotions through lies and deception.
He said the media could play a proactive role to avert conflict, but some unfortunately appear to be used as propaganda tools.