Written by Steven Stalinsky and R. Sosnow
Al-Qaeda And Its Offshoots Train And Indoctrinate Newborns, Toddlers, And Preschoolers Captured On Twitter
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).
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