The Islamic State group has adopted another uncommon technique for persuading recruits to join the extremist movement: Give them chocolate. Specifically, Lindt chocolate, a reference to a December hostage crisis at Sydney's Lindt Chocolate Cafe where the suspect appeared to support ISIS.
The detail was published Saturday in a New York Times article following Alex, a 23-year-old woman from Washington state, as she was courted by members of ISIS online. At one point, when Alex was converting to Islam, a man named Faisal mailed her packages from the United Kingdom. They included pamphlets about religion, hijabs and a prayer rug.
"Each bubble-wrapped package Faisal sent her included bars of Lindt chocolate," the story read, going on to explain that Faisal said the brand was significant because of the Sydney hostage crisis. Later in the story, when Alex wavered in her convictions, ISIS sent "more chocolate" and a kitten-decorated Hallmark card with cash for pizza.
The chocolate reportedly alluded to the events of Dec. 15 and 16, when an Iranian man named Man Haron Monis held a total of 18 people hostage for 16 hours in the Lindt cafe in Sydney. Monis, a 50-year-old self-dubbed sheik, fatally shot two people before being killed by police. During the incident he requested an ISIS flag, and he was later honored in an ISIS propaganda magazine for his actions, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The Australian Federal Police would not tell the Sydney Morning Herald whether they were investigating any sort of connection between ISIS' recruitment efforts and the December incident.
The New York Times report wasn't the first mention of ISIS' method of recruiting young people with sweets. In February, CNN ran a widely criticized interview with a visiting professor at the City College of New York who said ISIS was "talking online about jars of Nutella, pictures of kittens and emojis." Nimmi Gowrinathan suggested the images helped ISIS gain favor with potential new members because they indicated that "their life on the battlefield isn't so different than yours," she added.