Blog | Center Initiative Studies How Daesh Exploits Children

The Carter Center’s Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Extremism initiative has issued a paper that analyzes how the Islamic extremist group targets children in its recruitment materials and uses them in its operations.

“Children are a vital propaganda tool in Daesh’s recruitment phenomenon,” the paper states. They appear in videos to illustrate a range of Daesh narratives.

But children aren’t merely used as props, the paper contends, they are actively included in terrorist operations and are considered key to the group’s long-term survival. Daesh seems intent on raising a generation of ideologically pure radicals impervious to Western or even moderate Muslim influence, the paper says.

“The visual symbolism of having an organized army of young soldiers serves as a crucial element in Daesh’s psychological warfare,” the paper states. “The organization’s frequent references to its young combatants as ‘the cubs of the caliphate,’ ‘tomorrow’s mujahedeen,’ ‘the next generation,’ and ‘the future flag bearers’ are meant to send a strong message to its adversaries that it is well equipped and has an unmatched capacity.”

Daesh videos depict children in various support functions, serving as spies, sleeper cells, and even suicide bombers, the paper says. They are shown preaching, reciting scripture, and delivering music and poetry extolling the radicals’ point of view and way of life. They are even shown carrying out executions.

The use of children in terrorist acts and recruitment is not only immoral and illegal, it also is psychologically damaging to the children involved, the Carter Center paper says.

“It is therefore extremely crucial to have carefully planned programs that ensure proper recourse to justice and sensitive rehabilitation initiatives that respond to specific needs of the victims” who emerge from Daesh’s shadow, the paper argues.

Related Resources

Read the full document here »

Learn more about the Center’s Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Extremism »

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