"Poor and hungry": Ex-ISIS recruits on what drove them to join

AYN ISSA, Syria -- Eighty-one men and boys -- all accused of fighting for ISIS in Syria and now reformed after serving time in prison, according to America's Syrian allies -- have been reunited with their families.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his army of terrorists enforced a version of Islam unrecognizable to most Muslims, marked by vicious acts of violence.

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Ezadeen Khalaf

CBS News

But Ezadeen Khalaf, a former shepherd, said he joined ISIS not because he wanted to kill in the name of his religion, but out of desperation.

"We were poor and hungry," Khalaf said. "Either you join ISIS and earn a salary or you have nothing."

He and most of the others have now signed up to fight against ISIS.

Thousands of other young Muslims joined ISIS for more complicated reasons. They came from Europe, rejecting the West and its values for extremism.

Some apparently were so alienated from their communities that they returned home to carry out terror attacks.

In a refugee camp in northern Syria, a group of Indonesian women told CBS News they were simply gullible, traveling 5,000 miles to the so-called Islamic State in 2015 because they believed ISIS propaganda.

"Best place in the world and the people in there very happy, no poor, no sad," one of the women said of what drew her.

In reality, they said they were abused and their menfolk imprisoned by the extremists because they refused to fight. They ran away two weeks ago, and are too frightened of retribution from ISIS to show their faces

"Not just naïve, we are stupid. We deceived very easily," another said.

ISIS tried to ignite a war between Islam and the West, and to do so it preyed on anger, poverty and ignorance.