In recent years, the world has been repeatedly shocked by the gruesome images and actions of ISIS, in particular the footage and stories of children as young as eight executing people. Children play an important role in the organization: the children of the caliphate are seen as "the future of ISIS," and therefore education and propaganda are an important form of indoctrination. ISIS uses minors for suicide attacks, executions and fighting. Research has shown that IS propaganda between in 2015 and 2016 included 89 eulogies of children and youths—a number that steadily increased each monthly, showing that ISIS has gradually opted for this tactic. The role of minors and their future causes international concern for a broad range of reasons. Growing up and potentially fighting in armed conflict will traumatize a large number of these children. Also, what will happen with these children if the Caliphate collapses? Human Rights Watch expressed concerns about the birth registrations that will most likely not be recognized by the international community – potentially leaving children stateless.
This week on Intelligence. Unclassified., Analysis Bureau Chief Dean Baratta had an enlightening call with researcher Liesbeth van der Heide from the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), where they talk about her recent paper, Children of the Caliphate. They will explore the findings she and her co-author provide on young or juvenile ISIS returnees, assessing what sets juvenile returnees apart from adult returnees or the broader population of young criminals, and scoping the potential venues and challenges in their rehabilitation and reintegration.