Children of the Caliphate

Novikova O.N.


The article summarizes and analyzes existing knowledge on the recruitment and exploitation of children by terrorist and violent extremist groups. The recruited children are used to act as spies, to transport military equipment, to actively engage in attacks. Children are travelling with their families or by themselves from their state of residence to areas controlled by terrorist and violent extremist groups, in order to join them. We need to understand child socialisation into the Islamic State as a type of victimization which includes ferocious recruitment methods, enslavement, sexual exploitation, exposure to constant fear, indoctrination and psychological pressure. At the same time these children are potential perpetrators of violent crimes. The fact that they pose a threat does not lessen the fact that they were victims. The states have to develop protectionoriented rehabilitation activities for these children, so as to facilitate their reintegration into society. Usually these children suffer from war-related trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. If proper long-term rehabilitation programmes are absent some of the children that might therefore have become accustomed to violence, would be potentially vulnerable to radicalisation later on. One of the key challenges is to understand how juvenile violent extremist offenders are different from either regular juvenile criminal offenders or from adult violent extremist offenders.


terrorist organizations; violent extremist groups; recruitment; indoctrination; victimization; rehabilitation; reintegration; juvenile violent extremist offenders; young IS returnees.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2019.02.10

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