Seen as vital in attracting attention, radicalizing people and recruiting new members, the terrorist organizations have set a strong foothold on the internet. They recognize its significance very well and therefore seize every opportunity to make the best of it. A number of ways are employed by the terrorists to recruit and mobilize supporters and sympathizers, and this ongoing process targets all age groups. This article tackles the online recruitment activities targeting youngsters in the 9-18 years of age bracket.
The terrorist top leaders have appointed specialists and programmers from among their supporters and recruits to administer what they called “the electronic Jihad”. This fact is well-demonstrated in their literature; for example, in his book “39 Wasīlah li-khidmatal-Jihạdwa-al-Mushārakahfīh” (39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihâd), the Qaʻidah’s affiliate Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Sālim discusses at length the concept of electronic Jihad, stating, “The concept of electronic Jihad has recently found popularity among people and it refers to those who supports Jihad through the internet, and this is a blessed practice with tremendous benefit.” Al-Sālim then discusses two forms of electronic Jihad: public and discussion forums and cyberattacks. He concludes, “So, whoever is given knowledge in this field, then he should not be stingy with it in regards to using it to serve the Jihad. He should concentrate his efforts on destroying any American websites, as well as any sites that are anti-Jihad and Mujāhidīn, Jewish websites, modernist and secular websites."
As they certainly know that children constitute pillars of their future movement and provide momentum for the persistence of their activities, they spared no effort in radicalizing and recruiting them. Therefore, they developed computer games and learning applications for children to infuse bloody ideas and violent ideology into their minds. For example, in May 2016, the American news website Long War Journal (LWJ) reported that ISIS had developed an educational Android app for children. The application features jihadist themes implicit in the Arabic alphabet, nashīds (cappella Islamic songs) and vocabulary. Words like “tank,” “gun,” and “rocket” are among the first few thing taught on the application.
Although, this app is not first to be launched by ISIS, it is the first to be directed to children exclusively. With that said, parents should keep a more watchful eye on their children nowadays as they do not regularly attend school and spend a lot of time at home in front of different electronic screens.