The children of foreign fighters living in Islamic State territory are being trained to be the next generation of Islamic State fighters, according to a new report by Europol, the joint European law enforcement agency as reported by The Independent.
Many fighters from around the world who travelled to join the Islamic State brought their children with them. Still others had children while in Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) territory.
“In their propaganda, ISIS 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,” Europol’s annual report on terrorism in the European Union said.
The report said that children raised in the Islamic State were an issue of “particular concern.”
ISIS has indoctrinated the children under their control to such an extent that researchers have argued they will continue to pose a threat even if the Islamic State is defeated.
“They are an immediate threat and will become a much longer-term one,” Nikita Malik of the British-based, counter-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation said. “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.”
ISIS calls its recruits “cubs,” as opposed to “lions,” the name it uses for its adult soldiers.
ISIS has been recruiting child soldiers steadily. In 2015, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that from January to March ISIS recruited 400 child soldiers.
Earlier this year, the Islamic State released an app to teach children the Arabic alphabet, but using examples of military equipment to inure children to violent and military themes even from a young age.
It gives children a different word for each letter, including “gun, tank, rocket and bullet.”
It is believed that the number of children born to foreign fighters will increase as the proportion of women has increased among those who have travelled to join the Islamic State. These women are less able to leave than men are, and hence become so-called “jihadi brides.”
If their husbands are killed in battle, they are remarried so they can continue to bear children for the “caliphate.”
Currently, it is estimated that 31,000 women in the caliphate territory are pregnant.