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More than 400 children have been recruited to join the Islamic State since January, likely due to the terrorist group’s trouble in recruiting adults.
A report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights found that the first three months of 2015, hundreds of children have been recruited for Ashbal al- Khilafah, or “the Cubs of the Caliphate,” and taught the Islamic State ideology, as well as how to fight in battle and drive.
“They use children because it is easy to brainwash them,” Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory said to Reuters. “They can build these children into what they want, they stop them from going to school and send them to IS schools instead.”
In two regions of Syria, offices have been built to recruit children, according to the Syrian Observatory, often luring recruits with money or weapons, and preying on children with congenital malformation.
“These offices work on convincing and attracting the children who live near IS posts and who go to schools and mosques, the children who want to join IS without the approval of their parents and the children who come to the squares where the operations of executions, whipping, crucifying and beheading, and stoning carried out,” the Syrian Observatory wrote . The offices also work to convince parents to send their sons to the military camps.
Children are used as spies and guards near these IS posts to gather information, and Reuters noted that earlier this month, a video of a young boy shooting and killing an Israeli Arab accused by IS of being a spy was released.
Part of the reason behind the recruitment of children is the IS’s trouble in attracting adults. Since the beginning of the year, 120 adults have been documented as joining IS, the smallest number, proportionally, of new jihadists compared to current fighters since the creation of the Caliphate in June. This is likely due to Turkey tightening its border, where foreign fighters often enter.
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