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IS training ‘next generation’ fighters: Europol report

Analysts say the group sees children as crucial to secure the group’s long-term success and consider them better and more lethal fighters because of their indoctrination and de-sensitisation since birth.

The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists are training the children of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq to create the “next generation” of militants, according to a latest European report.

In its annual report on terrorism in the European Union (EU), Europol said children raised under the group’s rule are of “particular concern.”

“In their propaganda, the IS has often shown that they train these minors to become the next generation of foreign terrorist fighters, which may pose a future security threat to member states,” the report said.

Role models for would-be jihadists

“Some returnees will perpetuate the terrorist threat to the EU via facilitation, fundraising, recruitment and radicalisation activities. They may also serve as role models for future would-be violent jihadists,” the Independent newspaper said, citing the report.

More than 50 children from the United Kingdom are living in the so-called “caliphate,” where there are also an estimated 31,000 pregnant women, an investigation by the Quilliam Foundation had found earlier this year.

Unleashing more lethal fighters?

Analysts say IS leaders see the children as crucial to secure the group’s long-term success and consider them better and more lethal fighters because of their indoctrination and de-sensitisation since birth.

Nikita Malik, a senior researcher from the Quilliam Foundation, said that children are being used as part of the terrorist group’s “state-building exercise” in Iraq and Syria.

“They are an immediate threat and will become a much longer-term one. Their educational indoctrination breeds hatred against the West and calls all other states illegitimate — these children will have no access to or memory of any other ideas,” she told the paper.

Girls trained to raise their kids as fighters

The report said girls are not yet permitted to fight but are trained to raise their children in line with the IS ideology with the promise of “respect and affection” from male relatives.

The number of children born to foreign fighters is believed to be increasing as a growing proportion of “jihadi brides” travel to join the IS.

Europol estimates that more than 5,000 Europeans have travelled to Syria and Iraq — mainly to join the IS — but said the flow has slowed since an increase in counter-terror measures and intensifying air strikes and military defeats.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 4:24:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/IS-training-%E2%80%98next-generation%E2%80%99-fighters-Europol-report/article14517061.ece

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