Hmmmmm, President Obama, is this part of your moderate al-qaeda coalition of devout and pious Muslims?
The littlest jihadis — all in the family.
Check out this excellent, comprehensive report from MEMRI:
Al-Qaeda And Its Offshoots Train And Indoctrinate Newborns, Toddlers, And Preschoolers – Captured On Twitter
Source: Twitter.com/abu_muhajir1, accessed January 27, 2014
PART I: A Brief History Of Al-Qaeda’s Efforts To Recruit Children
- 2000: Al-Qaeda Begins Training Children – “Birds of Paradise” – In Afghanistan And Pakistan, Then In Iraq
- 2009: Birds of Paradise, Al-Zarqawi Cubs in Iraq
- 2010: Birds of Paradise In Saudi Arabia
- 2011-2012 Al-Qaeda Children’s Camps In Africa; Children’s Festival Highlights Al-Zarqawi
- 2013: Al-Zarqawi Cubs In Syria; ISIS Posts Videos On YouTube
- 2013: The Exploitation Of Children In The Jihad In Syria
- An Al-Qaeda Upbringing And Education
PART II: Twitter, Other Social Media Document Al-Qaeda’s Exploitation Of Children – From Infants To Teens: Collected Tweets
- Infants, Toddlers, And Preschoolers
- Children With Weapons
- Death Photos Of Child “Martyrs”
- Children With Parents And Other Adults
- Al-Zarqawi Cubs Training Camps
- Winning Little Hearts And Minds: Schools And Da’wa Tents
- Assorted Tweets: Jihadi Children Of Hamas, Taliban, Tunisia, Africa, Indonesia, And Others Around The World
Increasingly over the past decade, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates and sympathizers have been aiming their outreach and recruitment efforts at pre-teens, and even much younger children. As part of these efforts, Al-Qaeda sheikhs are reaching out directly to Muslim youth. For example, last year, in an audio lecture released by the Al-Qaeda media arm Al-Sahab, emerging Al-Qaeda leader Sheikh Maulana Asim Umar urged even the youngest Muslims to “not stay with [their] parents” and to leave the “luxury” of home and “city life” to wage jihad, like the Prophet Muhammad before them. In fiery terms, he exhorted them: “A youth whose heart is filled with desire, spirit, and love for jihad does not rest in his home; do not stay with your parents and do not enjoy the luxury of home… To fulfill the promise, one group preferred to sacrifice love for parents, leave the city life, and go to the mountains of Afghanistan, the snow-covered hills of Kashmir, and to continue fighting the enemy for the supremacy of Islam and to preserve the honor of their mothers and sisters…”
There is direct evidence, particularly as the crisis in Syria continues, that these efforts are paying off. Most recently, on January 28, 2014, it was reported that two teens from Toulouse, France, ages 15 and 16, had been apprehended in Turkey on their way to join the jihad in Syria. The previous week, it was reported that dozens of European teens have gone to fight with Al-Qaeda in Syria. The mother of two sons, also from Toulouse, announced that they had both been killed there, one of them in a suicide bombing.
New Trend: Parents Celebrate Their Teens’ Going to Jihad in Syria
Over the past year, there have been numerous reports of Muslim parents celebrating their teenage children’s departure to join the jihad in Syria, and many congratulations and celebrations, including images of sweets, on Twitter and other social media outlets, for this. For example, on September 25, 2013, Rema Al-Jraish, the wife of Muhammad Al-Hamily, who has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since 2004 on terrorism-related charges, tweeted (@twit_rima) that her son Muadh, 16, had arrived in Syria to fight with jihadi groups, and posted photos of him. One photo shows Muadh with an AK-47, and another shows him in front of the black flag of jihad associated with Al-Qaeda and its offshoots, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS, which previously swore allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri but which is currently in a dispute with Al-Qaeda Central; the latter issued a statement this week disowning ISIS).
Tweeted photos of Muadh Al-Jraish, 16, and of sweets at a celebration back home in Saudi Arabia marking his arrival in Syria.
Ms. Al-Jraish’s tweets sparked a heated Twitter debate between those agreeing with and those opposed to her actions. Online jihadis praised her and used her son’s story to encourage Muslim youths to do the same thing. In addition to huge online support for her, friends of hers threw a local celebration featuring sweets and other delicacies, marking Muadh’s arrival in Syria. While Muadh’s own Twitter account, @moath1044, which has over 2,600 followers, has not been updated since September 13, 2013, he is active on Instagram, posting most recently on February 4, 2014.
Front page of Muadh’s Instagram account
Photos from the past few days, including today; lower right image is a still from video posted to Muadh’s Instagram account, of him firing a gun (http://distilleryimage8.s3.
“The Future Of This Ummah… Kids Want Islam [And] Seek Nothing Other”
Other ways in which Al-Qaeda and its affiliates are pursuing outreach to children are by conducting training camps in which youngsters train with weapons, and by establishing da’wa centers all over the Arab and Muslim world. In addition, since the current situation in Syria offers a unique opportunity for extending their reach and deepening their influence, they are establishing there schools for pre-teen children, for indoctrinating even the very young in the ideology of extreme Salafi-jihadi Islam. ISIS is particularly active in this endeavor.
These institutions that are springing up across Syria are providing religious and physical training, even terrorism training, in accordance with Al-Qaeda doctrine. ISIS has even established its own “Department of Education” and its own curriculum. Children are being taught about waging jihad in Syria, about notable Al-Qaeda figures, such as Osama bin Laden, and about Al-Qaeda’s triumphs, such as 9/11.
“Department of Education, ISIS, Al-Raqqa Governorate”; “#Islamic State of Iraq and Syria || #Aleppo: The textbook of monotheism in the Islamic State’s schools”
“ISIS opens Islamic school to give Islamic education to children”; “#ISIS run Quran class for youth in Al-Badiyah”; “#Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – Graduation certificates from #ISIS to those who able to read Al-Quran properly.”
In the past two years, activity in these institutions has been widely documented in videos posted to YouTube and on Facebook pages, and photos and information are shared and re-shared on Twitter and other social media. Typical of the commentary on such content are statements such as “New generation of tawhid [monotheism] and jihad!”; “One of the lion cubs of the #Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Teach your children dignity and instill in them pride;” and “The future of this nation… kids want Islam and seek nothing other than this and this is apparent in their games, praise Allah.”
“This is the coming generation, God willing”; “Kids want Islam…”; “One of the lion cubs of the #Islamic State of Iraq and Syria…”; “Youngest terrorist in the world :)”
February 6, 2014 Video Shows Jabhat Al-Nusra Outreach Efforts To Its “Cubs” – Including Indoctrination In Faith And Jihad in School
On February 6, 2014, Jabhat Al-Nusra (JN) released a video showing the group’s outreach efforts in the Al-Ghouta Al-Sharqiyya area outside Damascus. The video, titled “JN Cubs – Towards The Path Of Enablement,” follows a large group of children attending a JN-run shari’a school, at which they study Arabic, learn and memorize Koran and hadiths, and participate in a variety of other activities. The video begins with a short animated scene and shows kids pulling up to the school in their school bus.
Also evident in the video is JN’s use of incentives and rewards.
They chant, “[Oh] our youth, come on to the battles… [and let] the arrogant [and] stubborn fall. Tomorrow, tomorrow, we implement the law of our God, and the unbelieving idol shall fall.” One boy who is interviewed thanks JN for “taking us to swimming pools, and teaching us the foundations of our religion,” adding that this is the true Islam. He notes that JN uses gifts such as the swimming excursion as incentives for children to memorize the Koran, among other accomplishments. The boy then prays for Allah to bring JN leader Abu-Muhammad Al-Joulani victory in face of his enemies – whom he names as the atheists, unbelievers, Bashar Al-Assad, Arab and non-Arab idols, the U.S., Russia, and China. The video also shows children practicing sermon-delivery skills, and drills them in what to say in interviews: A boy says he wants “to become a mujahid for the sake of Allah” when he grows up and that democracy is a system of unbelief.
The Littlest Jihadis – All In The Family
In addition to indoctrination at Al-Qaeda camps and schools, in da’wa efforts, in some local mosques and schools, and by jihadi organizations and individual jihadis, indoctrination is underway in individual homes where parents are supporters – and according to recent reports, foreign fighters traveling to Syria to join the jihad are now bringing their entire families. In December 2013, a French two-year-old was abducted from her mother by her father and taken with him to Turkey, en route to Syria where he intended to join the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra.
According to Mazen Zaki, of the Ibn Al-Waleed Studies and Field Research Centre in Egypt, this so-called “family jihad” could pose a serious threat in the future. He added that when these terrorist families remain in Syria, they will impact that country’s future social fabric – and that this could be a “calculated move” on the part of terror organizations. He added that these families will also produce a new generation “saturated with Al-Qaeda’s terrorist ideas” that sees Syria as a land of jihad, and that could also move to other parts of the world to wage jihad.
Muslim parents who embrace radical Islam and the Al-Qaeda ideology are busily sharing and tweeting photos and videos of their children, even infants and toddlers, dressed in jihadi garb with parents and other adults. Even newborn infants are shown posed with firearms and explosives that could kill them – grenades, pistols, ammunition, and automatic weapons such as AK-47s – and waving black jihadi flags. These parents take pride in the “next generation” of Al-Qaeda that they are raising. Children are filmed praising Osama bin Laden, saying that they want to “conquer Rome” and to “slaughter infidels.”
In addition to tweeting their support of, and their celebrations for, their teenage children’s going off to Syria to wage jihad, parents and other adults are tweeting their praise and congratulations for these children’s “martyrdom” when they are killed in the fighting.
For more tweeted photos of jihadi children, including child “martyrs,” see Part II of this report below; for a slide show of the photos, click here.
Promoting The Culture Of Death
Children’s deaths in fighting are being glorified in videos and photos circulated online and in social media. In a November 2012 video, a Syrian boy, who appears to be about 10, digs his own grave and expresses his wish for “martyrdom.”
The following are excerpts:
Youth: “Prayers upon our Prophet Muhammad. The children of freedom desire martyrdom for the sake of Allah. Assalam Alykum, brother.”
Child: “Alykum Assalam.”
Youth: “I see that you are digging something. What are you digging there?”
Child: “I’m digging my own grave. Allah willing, I will become a martyr.”
Youth: “Are you asking Allah to grant you martyrdom?”
Child: “Allah willing.”
But as shocking as this is, the most disturbing of all of these paeans to the jihadi cause and culture of death are the tweeted death photos of children killed fighting, and the praise that accompanies them.
For example, on the tweeted photo of a dead boy it says: “Abu Anas Al-Ansari, 14 years old and one of the youngest mujahideen martyred…” Another tweet of him adds, ” May Allah, SWT (glorified and exalted is He), accept and grant him heaven.”
In January 2014, it was reported that 14-year old Najaf Karimov from Azerbaijan was killed January 10, 2014 in the fighting in Syria; his death was praised online.
Najaf Karimov, 14. Source:Oxu.az, January 13, 2014.
An entire generation – the future of Al-Qaeda and like-minded groups – is currently being nurtured and indoctrinated in Al-Qaeda ideology – and these children’s images, even their deaths, are being exploited, on Twitter and other social media, for Al-Qaeda and other jihadi groups’ recruitment efforts.
Part I of this report provides a brief history of Al-Qaeda’s efforts to recruit children; Part II includes photos and images of children in jihadi activity that were tweeted and shared on other social media.
PART I: A Brief History Of Al-Qaeda’s Efforts To Recruit Children
2000: Al-Qaeda Begins Training Children – “Birds of Paradise” – In Afghanistan And Pakistan, Then In Iraq
On November 4 and 5, 2010, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida published transcripts from the interrogation of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) intelligence unit commander Ibrahim Muhammad Saleh Al-Banna, whom the paper described as “one of Al-Qaeda’s most dangerous commanders.”
Under interrogation, Al-Banna said that since 2000, Al-Qaeda had been training women and children in the use of weapons. He said that a women’s unit called Houriyyat Al-Janna (“Virgins of Paradise”) had been established, and that it had originally comprised 22 wives and daughters of mujahideen. This was followed by the formation of a children’s unit, Tuyour Al-Janna (“Birds of Paradise”), whose members are sons of mujahideen. The groups’ numbers, he said, had increased to 1,000 women and 3,000 children.
According to other reports, it was in 2004 that Al-Qaeda founded the “Birds of Paradise” movement, dedicated to recruiting children under 15 to join its ranks and, in particular, carry out suicide attacks in addition to transporting explosives, gathering information, and other tasks. The movement was first active in Pakistan and Afghanistan and then expanded to Iraq.
2009: Birds of Paradise, Al-Zarqawi Cubs – Al-Qaeda Children’s Movement – Flourish in Iraq
In 2009, the first media reports were published in the Arab media about attacks by children from the Birds of Paradise in Iraq, and the arrests of some of them. For example, on August 5, 2009 the Iraqi daily Al-Mada reported that the Operations Command in Baghdad, which is the security apparatus in charge of fighting terrorism, had announced its arrest of three children from the Al-Qaeda Cubs (ashbal al-qa’ida) group, an offshoot of the Birds of Paradise, as well as of six terrorists who recruit children for the group. Operations Command spokesman Maj.-Gen. Qassim ‘Atta was quoted in the report as saying that Al-Qaeda had begun focusing on recruiting children, single and divorced women, and the uneducated.
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