Boys throughout the Muslim world are increasingly indoctrinated into becoming super jihadis: ISIS 2.0. The news is coming in fast from a variety of sources.
A documentary filmmaker, Alan Duncan, for instance, recently made a brief video of his visit to al-Hawl refugee camp in northeastern Syria, run by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Although 80% of the camp consists of women and (27,000) children, many of whom had fled ISIS, the camp is known as the "Womb of ISIS."
In the video, highlighted in a February 2021 report, eight- to ten-year-old boys appear raising one finger — symbolic of jihad. When asked about the gesture, one boy responded: "This means the Islamic State remains." On being asked if they want to be doctors or teachers when they grow up, one boy says, "We don't want to be a doctor. We want to be a brother fighter. We want to fight the apostates." Then a woman, dressed in a black burka, declares that she wants the children to become "mujahidin who fight in the way Allah" — who "fight the infidels."
According to Duncan, the reason for all this indoctrination is that:
There are already training camps in there — they are training the ISIS ideologies to the kids. They are not teaching them A, B and C — they are teaching them to hate. To hate the West .... They are training them for future jihad.... The children are victims of ISIS and their parents. They are within an extremist Islamic-controlled camp. They are not being told how to become doctors and nurses — the little girls are there to serve and breed. The boys are there to be the future fighters and the future suicide bombers.... This is the start of the new caliphate. I am certain of it. You can sense the fear in there of the religious police. They are trying to keep the structure of caliphate in there — the laws, the punishment. It's like walking in the caliphate. It's like walking into another world.
A camp official agreed, adding:
The women and children are radicalized — the vehicles of the humanitarian workers are even attacked with stones. The guards do feel unsafe while patrolling the camp. However, they are armed and trained.
The dreaded Boko Haram terrorists have released a video where children as young as 10-years-old were seen being trained in the art of combat and insurgency in what it tagged 'Next Generation Fighters'. In the alleged training video, the child soldiers are seen being trained with sophisticated weapons like AK-47 rifles and Zastava M21, a very powerful weapon... The images from the video show the relatively young children dressed in combat-style clothing and balaclava participating in martial arts training, weapon handling training and religious education class....
Hate-filled indoctrination takes place in schools all around the Muslim world.
Hate-filled indoctrination and training in violence is not limited to the "schools" of ISIS or Boko Haram. Public schools all around the Muslim world share elements of this indoctrination. Most recently, a March 2021 study exposed how the school curriculum of Turkey — for decades one of the Muslim world's most secular nations — is also increasingly full of jihadi propaganda. Some of the report's "main findings" follow:
The Turkish curriculum has been significantly radicalized in recent years. Jihad war is introduced as a central value; martyrdom in battle is glorified. Islam is depicted as political, using science and technology to advance its goals. An ethno-nationalist religious vision combining neo-Ottomanism and pan-Turkism is taught. Concepts such as "Turkish World Domination" and Turkish or Ottoman "Ideal of the World Order" are emphasized. The curriculum adopts an anti-American stance and displays sympathy toward the motivations of ISIS and Al-Qaeda. There are anti-Armenian and pro-Azerbaijani stances. ... Subtle anti-democratic messaging is conveyed (e.g., Gezi Park protests). Christians and Jews are characterized as infidels instead of People of the Book.
The curriculum demonizes Zionism and verges on anti-Semitic.
Even in the West, Muslim children are being indoctrinated "virtually," online, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a March 4, 2021 report (updated March 10), "Children are being exposed to ISIS terrorism online during lockdown, raising fears of brainwashing, the British foreign secretary said." Dominic Raab told Parliament that this rise "of violent internet indoctrination" is occurring at a "critical moment," when there has been a 7 percent increase in the amount of terrorist propaganda appearing last year, adding:
This is because terrorists have digital access to those who are probably the most susceptible to extremist narratives. And we can see a worrying rise in the proportion of children and teenagers that are now being arrested for terrorism offenses.
Raab referred to the mixture of "bored youths stuck indoors during lockdown," where they are "subjected to extremist propaganda online," as the "perfect storm."
There is another factor in the mix: all of this unprecedented radicalization of Muslim youth in jihadi hate and violence is occurring at a time when boys in the West are being unprecedentedly indoctrinated into renouncing masculinity and embracing effeminacy. What will happen in a few decades when all these boys — those raised on absolute hate and violence and those raised on absolute tolerance and nonviolence — become the world's decision-makers?
Raymond Ibrahim is the Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum.