ISIS might be ceding territory in the Middle East, but ithasn’t given up the battle for hearts and minds.
The terrorist group is playing a long game, workingaggressively to indoctrinate children under its control to groom the nextgeneration of jihadist in its image.
While other terrorist groups around the world have alsoused children, new reports reveal the unprecedented system ISIS has created toraise the next generation of terrorists.
German newspaper Der Spiegel talked to several childrenwho explained how ISIS, also referred to as IS or the Islamic State,methodically brainwashes kids to ensure that even if its territory is wipedout, it’ll still have a loyal band of followers keeping the group alive.
Der Spiegel explained this strategy, as Nikita Malik ofthe Quilliam Foundation, a think tank that analyzes ISIS propaganda,understands it:
“By depicting children, says Malik, IS wanted toshow that it was relatively unimpressed by bombs. IS’ message, she explains, isthis: ‘No matter what you do, we are raising a radicalized generation here.’Within the system, says Malik, the children’s task was to spread IS ideology inthe long term, and to infiltrate society so deeply and lastingly thatsupporters would continue to exist, even if territory was lost.”
Some children living under ISIS control are sent tomilitary camps, and some are sent to schools.
They’re taught how to pray and use weapons, desensitizedto violence, and given drugs to make them more susceptible to whatever ISISwants them to believe.
A new report from the Washington Institute for Near EastPolicy details ISIS’ system of exposing children to its radical ideology.
“Stating that the Islamic State promotes religiousextremism is far from sufficient in understanding what it seeks to achieve, muchless what it teaches its students,” the report noted, stating that theterrorist group is creating a “fighter generation committed to IS’cause” in a way that’s “both specific and unprecedented.”
ISIS has created its own textbooks filled entirely withmaterial that caters to its radical ideology. Weapons are used to illustratemath problems for young kids, and chapters dealing with Western governmentsfocus on “explaining why each is a form of idolatry because of itsviolation of God’s sovereignty,” according to the report.
“It is instilling very young children with …Islamism, jihadism, and it’s something that’s going to stick around for a long,long time,” Charlie Winter, an expert on ISIS propaganda and seniorresearcher for Georgia State University, told Business Insider earlier thisyear. “It’s an elephant in the room that isn’t being given enoughscrutiny.”
Der Spiegel summarizes how the indoctrination processworks:
“The recruitment of children takes place in severalphases, beginning with harmless socialization. Islamic State hosts events inwhich children are given sweets and little boys are allowed to hold an IS flag.Then they are shown videos filled with violence. Later, in the free schools ISuses to promote the movement, they learn Islamic knowledge and practicecounting and arithmetic with books that use depictions of tanks. They practicebeheading with blond dolls dressed in orange jumpsuits. With a new appdeveloped by IS, they learn to sing songs that call upon people to engage injihad.”
ISIS supports this brainwashing with ideologicaljustifications for its worldview, claiming God has given ISIS the authority topunish unbelievers.
An introduction printed in its textbooks reads:
“The Islamic State carries the burdens — with theagreement of God almighty — of refuting [nonbelievers] and bringing them to arenewed monotheism and a wide Islamic expanse under the flag of the rightlyguided caliphate and its outstretched branches after it won over the devils andtheir lowlands of ignorance and its people of destruction.”
Now that ISIS is losing territory in Iraq and Syria, it’sshifting to insurgency tactics similar to what Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS’predecessor, did during the Iraq War. Bombings and terrorist attacks maintainthe sense that ISIS is omnipresent even when militarily the group is losing.
And the kids ISIS is indoctrinating now will remain evenafter the terrorists have lost the cities and towns they once controlled.
“This is a political problem that will last wellbeyond the existence of the group,” Winter said. “Even if all theleaders are killed and [ISIS] suddenly disintegrates … there would be lots andlots of these children who have known nothing other than jihadist warfare, whohave been taught that Shias need to be killed at all costs, that there’s aglobal conspiracy against them and the only way they can survive in life is bykilling people who are their enemies and not really questioning whether theyshould be doing it.”
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