7 Jun 2011

Government report says UK universities have become breeding grounds for recruiting extremists and terrorists

Daily Mail   -   UK    June 6, 2011

40 UK universities are now breeding grounds for terror as hardline groups peddle hate on campus


England's universities have become a breeding ground for extremism and terrorist recruitment, according to a disturbing government report.

Officials have identified 40 English universities where ‘there may be particular risk of radicalisation or recruitment on campus’.

A soon to be published Whitehall report – seen by the Daily Mail – will point to a string of examples of students going on to commit terrorist acts against this country or overseas.

Alarmingly the Prevent review says that ‘more than 30 per cent of people convicted for Al Qaeda-associated terrorist offences in the UK... are known to have attended university or a higher education institution.

‘Another 15 per cent studied or achieved a vocational or further education qualification. About 10 per cent of the sample were students at the time when they were charged or the incident for which they were convicted took place.’

The report, prepared by Home Office officials, warns of hardline Islamic groups specifically targeting universities which have large numbers of Muslim students in order to peddle a message of hate.

Students are even ‘engaging in terrorism or related activities while members of university societies’.

But it says the universities are not doing enough to respond to this threat to national security. Fewer than half of universities are engaged with the police.

Home Secretary Theresa May will demand universities do more to confront this threat. She also wants more action to deport preachers of hate.

The universities which have given places to fanatics include some of our most prestigious institutions.

The report will say that terrorists who have attended English universities include Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, the Stockholm suicide bomber who had a BSc in sports therapy from the University of Luton, now the University of Bedfordshire.

The alleged Detroit underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, studied mechanical engineering at University College London between 2005 and 2008.

Two of the fanatics convicted of the transatlantic liquid bomb plot – ringleader Abdulla Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar – attended City and Brunel Universities respectively.

The review says the Department for Business, which is in charge of universities, has identified about 40 English universities where there may be a particular risk.

Some now have a dedicated police officer to advise on tackling radicalisation.The document raises particular alarm about the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS).

It says there are ‘several examples of students engaging in terrorism or related activities while members of university societies affiliated to FOSIS.

Such extremists must have no part in any organisation that wishes to be recognised as a representative body.’

The finger of blame for radicalising students is pointed at Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which David Cameron promised to ban in opposition, and off-shoots of a fanatical group once run by preacher of hate Omar Bakri.

One section warns: ‘We believe there is unambiguous evidence to indicate that some extremist organisations, notably Hizb-ut-Tahrir, target specific universities and colleges (notably those with a large number of Muslim students) with the objective of radicalising and recruiting students.’

Universities UK says that universities ‘are places where ideas and beliefs can be tested without fear of control’, and that they act as a safeguard against ideologies that threaten Britain’s open society.

The worries about the lax attitude of some universities is combined with concern about the student visa route.

Ten of the 11 Pakistani nationals seized on suspicion of plotting an atrocity in the North-West in 2009 had student visas.

The alleged ringleader of this plot – Abid Naseer – was a computer studies student at Liverpool John Moores University.

Mrs May is determined to crack down on the abuse of the student visa route.

However, she has faced opposition within government from Michael Gove’s Education Department and Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Meanwhile, Whitehall officials are said to be concerned that Mr Gove’s flagship ‘free schools’ policy – where parents can obtain state funding to open and run their own schools – could be targeted by extremists.

Security officials working in a dedicated unit are expected to vet the backgrounds of all would-be applicants for evidence of extremism or radicalisation.

The Prevent strategy is said to have caused behind-the-scenes rows within the Government.

Mr Gove is understood to have argued that the Government should not engage with groups which hold any extremist beliefs – even though these are the ones most likely to attract would-be terrorists.

Four months ago, in a major speech in Munich, the Prime Minister signalled an end to ‘passive tolerance’ of extremist Islamic organisations which foster hatred against the West and radicalise young Muslims

This article was found at:


Islamic schools in U.K. force girls to wear veils, moderate Muslims say children in such schools are being brainwashed

UK children as young as 7 being groomed for terrorism by Islamic extremists

BBC investigation reveals thousands of UK children being taught extremism and hatred in Sharia law weekend schools

Faith schools ‘will hinder fight against terrorism’

Intellectual abuse and suppression of simple childhood pleasures by Islamic fundamentalists common in U.K.

Malaysia’s universities have become prime recruiting grounds for Islamic militants

Radical Islamic boarding schools across Indonesia breeding grounds for suicide bombers

Children of Jihad: Indonesian filmmaker documents impact of terrorism on children from all angles

Tajikistan government prosecuting parents for violating children's right to education without religious indoctrination

Tajikistan draft law would ban children under 18 from churches, mosques, houses of worship

Tajikistan shuts down illegal underground religious schools for not having permission to teach Islamic studies to children

Tajikistan president says students studying religion abroad "are all becoming terrorists and extremists", should come home


  1. Leaked report reveals 'aggressive Islamist agenda' in Birmingham schools

    Exclusive: Draft report from 'Trojan horse' inquiry uncovers evidence of coordinated plan to impose hardline Sunni Islam

    by Haroon Siddique, The Guardian July 17, 2014

    A damning report into extremist infiltration of Birmingham schools has uncovered evidence of "coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city".

    The conclusion emerges from a leaked draft of a report, commissioned by the former education secretary Michael Gove and written by Peter Clarke, the former head of the Metropolitan police's counterterrorism command, which is due to be published in the next 24 hours.

    Clarke said there was a "sustained and coordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain of Sunni Islam".

    The draft, marked as sensitive, added that: "Left unchecked, it would confine schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain".

    The uncompromising report may deepen community tensions in England's second city and provoke a fierce debate on whether Britain has been sufficiently muscular in efforts to expose and uproot Islamism. It will also make uncomfortable reading for Birmingham city council as it accuses local politicians and officials of ignoring evidence of extremism for years, repeatedly failing to support bullied headteachers and putting the need to soothe community tensions ahead of all else.

    The report represents an explosive parting gift from Gove to the new education secretary Nicky Morgan in only her second full day in post. Touching on one of Gove's flagship reforms, Clarke calls for the Department for Education "to review the process by which schools are able to convert to academy status and become multi-academy trusts".

    The former police chief said there were potentially serious problems in some academies raised by the Birmingham "Trojan horse" crisis. The draft states: "In theory, academies are accountable to the secretary of state, but in practice the accountability can almost amount to benign neglect where educational and financial performance seems to indicate everything is fine."

    Ofsted has already published a report into the quality of Birmingham education after snap inspections at 21 schools revealed serious problems, leading to five schools being placed in special measures. Senior staff at Park View Educational Trust, who were identified in the Clarke report as central to the agenda, have also resigned.

    In response to the Ofsted report, Birmingham local government officials and politicians accused Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, of deliberately misrepresenting problems of governance in a small number of schools by associating them with a wider threat of Islamist extremism.

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  2. Last week Mark Rogers, the chief executive of Birmingham city council, said: "We've had to deal with a national political agenda that has deliberately conflated religious conservatism with an extremist agenda that is all to do with radicalisation and violent extremism."

    On Friday, Birmingham is due to publish Clarke's final report, in conjunction with its own inquiry, conducted by Ian Kershaw.

    The crisis in Birmingham schools erupted in February when an anonymous letter claimed there was a "Trojan horse" conspiracy in which conservative Muslims aimed to infiltrate Birmingham schools. Although the letter is thought to be a hoax as regards the specific allegation, the broad notion of infiltration was felt to merit further investigation.

    Lambasting the council, Clarke says: "There was never a serious attempt to see if there was a pattern to what was happening in school governing bodies. The council's approach has been variously described to me as appeasement and a failure in their duty of care towards their employees."

    With access to internal council correspondence, he said there was "incontrovertible evidence" that senior officials and elected members of Birmingham city council were aware of the practices set out in the Trojan Horse letter as early as 2012.

    Clarke's report is backed up by graphic evidence, including social media exchanges between senior staff, and disagrees with the council's previously expressed view, saying the offending ideology "manifests itself as the imposition of an aggressively separatist and intolerant agenda incompatible with full participation in a plural secular democracy".

    "Rejecting not only the secular and other religions, but also other strains of Islamic belief, it goes beyond the kind of social conservatism practiced in some faith schools which may be consistent with universal human rights and respectful of other communities. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to convert secular state schools into exclusive faith schools in all but name."

    Clarke said that he neither sought nor found evidence of terrorism, but there was "very clear evidence that young people are being encouraged to accept unquestionably a particular hardline strand of Sunni Islam that raises concerns about their vulnerability to radicalisation in the future".

    "Essentially the ideology revealed by this investigation is an intolerant and politicised form of extreme social conservatism that claims to represent and ultimately seeks to control all Muslims. In its separatist assertions and attempts to subvert normal processes it amounts to what is often described as Islamism."

    Clarke's investigation gained him access to transcripts of discussions on social media between senior figures at Park View Academy, one of the schools at the heart of the row. Heasserts: "The all-male group discussions include explicit homophobia, highly offensive comments about British service personnel, a stated ambition to increase segregation at the school, disparagement of Muslims in sectors other than their own, scepticism about the truth of reports on the murder of [soldier] Lee Rigby and the Boston bombings, and a constant undercurrent of anti-western, anti-America and anti-Israel sentiment."

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  3. A Birmingham council source said: "The performance of Birmingham in raising school attainment has recently been lauded despite the level of deprivation seen in the city."

    He added: "Time and again people who have either been teachers or governors at Park View appear to be involved in behaviour at other schools that have destabilised headteachers, sometimes leading to their resignation or removal. The tactics that have been used are too similar, the individuals concerned are too closely linked and the behaviour of a few parents and governors too orchestrated for there not to be a degree of coordination behind what has happened."

    Tahir Alam, the chair of governors of the Park View Trust, who is the subject of special criticism in the report, resigned earlier this week after claiming there had been a "vicious and coordinated offensive" against the trust. His fellow trustees also resigned en masse.

    December 2013 Birmingham council passes a letter to West Midlands counter-terrorism unit outlining a plot called "Operation Trojan horse", to oust headteachers and replace them with people who will run their schools on "strict Islamic principles".

    7 March 2014 Counter-terrorism unit confirms it is looking into the alleged plot as details become public.

    13 March Police reveal they are investigating whether the letter was a hoax connected to an employment tribunal involving a school named in the plot.

    14 April The leader of Birmingham council says 25 schools in the city are under investigation following 200 complaints it has received in relation to allegations of Islamist "takeovers". Sir Albert Bore also announces that Ian Kershaw, a former headteacher with experience of leading independent inquiries, has been given a six-month contract by the council to "analyse further all Trojan horse material to enable us to see the whole picture".

    15 April Michael Gove, the education secretary, appoints Peter Clarke, who served as head of the Met's counter-terrorism unit and led the investigation into the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, to examine the claims.

    9 June Five of 21 schools inspected by Ofsted are judged to be inadequate and placed in special measures: Park View, Golden Hillock, Saltley, Oldknow and Nansen. Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw says "a culture of fear and intimidation" exists within the schools under investigation.

    20 June The governors of Saltley resign in protest at the way their school has been treated.

    15 July Trustees at Park View educational trust announce that they have quit in protest at a "coordinated and vicious" offensive led by Gove.


  4. Toddlers at risk of extremism warns Education Secretary

    Nicky Morgan will use her first major speech to highlight the danger of extremism in Britain's nurseries after 'Trojan Horse' scandal

    By Matthew Holehouse, Political correspondent, The Telegraph August 7, 2014

    Nurseries are at risk of being taken over by religious extremists, the Education Secretary will warn as she announces that toddlers are to be taught “fundamental British values”.

    In her first major policy announcement, Nicky Morgan will say that local authorities will be obliged to use new powers to strip nurseries of their funding if they are found to “promote extremist views”.

    She will also say that toddlers should be taught “fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way” as part of a drive to protect children from religious radicals.

    Nurseries that teach creationism as scientific fact will be ineligible for taxpayer funding, under the new rules.

    Mrs Morgan’s announcement comes in the wake of the “Trojan Horse” plot by Islamist radicals to take over state schools in Birmingham.

    The scandal involved primary and secondary schools, but this is the first time the Government has warned that children as young as two could require protection from extremists.

    Mrs Morgan is understood to be concerned about the risks posed to children by nurseries linked to radical mosques or run by Islamic hardliners.

    There are also concerns within the Government that councils need greater powers to react when allegations of extremist values are raised. At present, local authorities provide funding to nurseries that meet basic Ofsted requirements, but there is no explicit statement that they must not support providers — such as churches, mosques or charities — with extremist views.

    There are fears that loopholes leave councils feeling powerless to cut off financing for organisations which they have concerns about. “After Birmingham, we feel it is important to be proactive,” a government source said.

    However, sources added that there is no concrete intelligence about individual nurseries that demands immediate action.

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  5. Ministers were prompted to act after a consultation into early education funding received 450 responses from individuals and organisations expressing concerns about funding going to organisations that promote extremist views.

    A report by Peter Clarke, a former counter-terrorism chief at the Metropolitan Police, into the Birmingham schools scandal highlighted that the education system needed to be able to respond swiftly if concerns are raised.

    Mrs Morgan, who replaced Michael Gove as Education Secretary in last month’s Cabinet reshuffle, strongly believes that any institution that fails to prepare children for life in modern

    Britain cannot be sustained with public funding.

    Proposals by Mr Gove to oblige schools to promote “fundamental British values” will be extended to children as young as two, Mrs Morgan will say. For toddlers, the teaching of such values is likely to include learning right from wrong, learning to take turns and share, and “challenging negative attitudes and stereotypes”, it
    is understood.

    The rules on creationism will bring nurseries into line with state-funded schools. A government source said: “We are absolutely not saying, 'You can’t teach Bible stories’.”

    Ofsted, the education watchdog, will use the new guidelines in its inspections of nurseries. A consultation will take place in September and Mrs Morgan hopes the rules will come into force in the New Year.

    In July, Mr Clarke concluded there was a “co-ordinated” campaign by Islamist hardliners to oust state school head teachers and impose an “aggressive Islamic ethos” on pupils in Birmingham.

    Council officials were aware of the plot for two years but “failed to intervene appropriately” as they feared offending Muslims. Mr Clarke said teachers used a secret instant messaging group on which they called for the “eradication” of homosexuality and claimed the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby was “staged”.

    Dozens of children were said to have been tasked to act as “religious police” to report on staff and pupils who spoke “out of turn” or wore “inappropriate dress”.
    Mrs Morgan described the findings as “disturbing” and said in future teachers would be sacked without appeal if they exposed children to extremism.


  6. Extremist nurseries to lose funding - Nicky Morgan

    BBC August 8, 2014

    Councils are to be given powers to stop funding early-years providers with links to extremism, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced.

    The move, in England, follows a letter-writing campaign by the British Humanist Association.

    Members wrote to MPs and responded to a nursery funding consultation, raising concerns about extremist links and creationist teaching in some nurseries.

    The Department for Education said the change closes "a technical loophole".

    Mrs Morgan said that toddlers must learn "fundamental British values" and that schools and nurseries that do not "support this aim" should not receive public money.

    The move comes after allegations that hardline Islamists tried to take over Birmingham schools in what was dubbed the Trojan Horse plot.

    'Modern Britain'
    The BHA says about 450 of its members responded to a recent government consultation, asking for funding to be withdrawn where there were concerns that nurseries were being run by people with "extremist views" or who promoted creationism as a scientific fact.

    About 1,000 people also wrote to their MPs.

    Announcing the measures, Mrs Morgan, who replaced Michael Gove as education secretary in last month's Cabinet reshuffle, said there is no place for extremism "anywhere in the education system".

    Funding would be withheld from establishments that teach creationism as scientific fact, Mrs Morgan said.

    A Department for Education spokeswoman said the change brings nurseries into line with schools where funding can be withdrawn if there are concerns about "extremism", pending investigation by Ofsted.

    Inspections will also include checks to ensure early-years providers promote British values.

    Early-years children will be taught about learning right from wrong, learning to take turns and share, and to challenge negative attitudes and stereotypes.

    "One of the most important roles of the education system is that it should prepare young people for life in modern Britain," Mrs Morgan said.

    'Aggressive Islamist agenda'
    "I am clear that public money should not be used to support any school or early-years provider that does not support this aim because it seeks to promote ideas and teachings that run counter to fundamental British values."

    The government will launch a consultation to seek views on the proposals from the public and early-years providers.

    Andrew Copson, the BHA chief executive, welcomed Mrs Morgan's decision.

    The National Union of Teachers said it agreed religious extremism has no place in schools - but Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney commented: "It is disappointing that it is the notion of extremism which is the subject of the first major announcement of the new Secretary of State.

    "Early years and school staff already teach children right from wrong.

    "Asking Ofsted to inspect how well nurseries are teaching 'fundamental British values' does not appear to offer anything new for children and will concern all those who seek to promote community engagement."

    Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance said the term 'British Values' was "difficult to define and often subjective so we cannot see how stipulating 'British Values' or the state of 'Britishness' adds anything that could ever be meaningful to the experiences of young children."

    Liz Bayram, chief executive of the childcare association PACEY, pointed out that concepts of democracy, law and individual liberty "are very challenging concepts for the under fives".

    Ms Bayram said the vast majority of nurseries and childminders were "doing a really good job and no evidence of extremism has been found. This is a big reaction to an issue that may not even be there and could be tackled by what's already in place".


  7. ISIS child recruitment push hints at long-term ambitions

    Children indoctrinated by Sunni extremists as 'assets,' terrorism expert says

    By Matt Kwong, CBC News August 15, 2014

    The voice pledging jihad in the video is brash, prideful and chillingly juvenile.

    "We promise you car bombs and explosives," the boy shouts, his small arms and hands gesturing wildly for emphasis.

    "We'll destroy the enemies of the religions, all of them — all who fought the Islamic State," he continues.

    "And the Caliphate?" prompts an adult male voice, coaching the youth off-camera.

    "And the Caliphate. The Caliphate will remain until the end of the world," the child answers, reiterating his support for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

    The boy, who appears to be not much older than 12 in the Vice News documentary, embodies what human-rights and counter-terrorism researchers describe as a sophisticated and dangerous new phase for the Sunni extremists — the cultivation of child jihadis as part of a long-term strategy to building a caliphate, or Islamic state, in Iraq and Syria.

    "They want the children because the children can be moulded," said John Rossomando, a senior analyst with the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism.

    "They're easy to seduce. They're using children's images to say, 'Even our next generation is coming for you,'" Rossomando said.

    ISIS isn't shying away from using images of underaged fighters to market jihad abroad.

    Rather, children are "predominantly displayed" in their propaganda, said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracy.

    One video of an ISIS convoy moving through Mosul in northern Iraq shows a baby-faced soldier toting an assault rifle in the carriage of a truck.

    Tweets have also purported to show Iraqi children in ISIS-held territories flashing the terrorist group's hand salute, or patrolling the streets with guns.

    This week, an Australian grandfather pleaded with local politicians to help retrieve his grandson, after the child appeared in a video from Syria with his father hoisting up the decapitated head of a soldier.

    Roggio, who tracks jihadist propaganda, said photos have been distributed showing militants "handing out ice cream or having carnivals" in ISIS-controlled Raqqa in northern Syria.

    "It's like saying, 'Look, we're popular amongst a broad range of society. Even the children love us, and we're here to raise your children to be good Muslims,'" he said. "They're trying to be family-friendly jihad."

    Human Rights Watch, which interviewed 25 former child fighters who took up arms in Syria, reported in June that armed rebels groups in the battle-scarred country have drafted boys as young as 15 for training.

    As of June, the Violations Documenting Center, a Syrian monitoring group, said it has logged 194 cases of "non-civilian male children" who died while fighting since the civil war erupted in September 2011.

    'Signed up for suicide missions'

    One section of the HRW report that focused on ISIS stated the group "reached out to young people, including children, in systematic ways, entering schools and providing education in mosques that includes weapons and military training."

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  8. Some of the children who eventually left the terrorist outfit did so because they were wounded in battle or captured by government forces, said Jo Becker, HRW's children's rights advocacy director.

    Becker, who has worked on child soldier issues for the past 17 years, said some of the male children were enticed to join the extremist cause after attending speeches at public mosques and other forums. Once recruited, they were used for spying, trained for combat, and even received military uniforms, bulletproof vests and salaries.

    "At least one [former child soldier] reported that children in his unit had signed up for suicide missions," she said.

    Raed, now 17, said he joined the training camp less than two years ago because he liked what the militants were wearing, and he admired their "one herd" mentality.

    "The leader of the camp said [ISIS] liked the younger ones better," Raed said in the HRW report. "He told me, ‘Tomorrow they’ll be a stronger leader or a stronger fighter.’"

    The indoctrination of children, who Becker said are easy prey for jihadists because they haven't developed mature judgment, could be of particular concern because of what that says about the scale of ISIS's ambitions.

    Boys with 'desire to go to battle'

    Although youths may not yet be the most capable fighters, a potentially more dangerous prospect is a boy who has had years to mature into a deadly adult combatant on the battlefield.

    Some analysts have argued that, unlike child soldiers in some parts of Africa who might be sent into battle against their will, stolen from their parents or drugged to become fearless killers, some young ISIS fighters appear to have enlisted on their own volition.

    HRW said that children who joined armed groups in Syria did so after enduring torture by the regime, after participating in protests, or because schooling was no longer an option.

    But, according to the report, others "simply … had a desire to go to battle."

    "The images of child soldiers I’m most familiar with are out of Africa, where there’s the practice of taking young children and sort of breaking them down psychologically and remoulding them as trained killers said Michael Dartnell, a terrorism expert who teaches political science at Georgian College in Ontario.

    "I’m not certain if that’s actually what is going on in Syria and Iraq right now."

    Even so, Dartnell added he wasn’t sure about the capacity for such young minds to make independent ideological choices so early in life.

    While Roggio said his monitoring of jihadi social-media feeds brought up images of young ISIS supporters brandishing weapons, marching in extremist parades and hitting posters of perceived infidels with their shoes, "I don’t see them being deployed on the battlefields or into towns" as one might expect a child soldier to do.

    Instead, he believes youths are considered by ISIS as being more of a long-term "asset."

    "The children aren't disposable to them," he said, adding that their exploitation is a means of survival for the movement.
    Becker, with HRW, said that child soldiers have been shown in the past to be used in some of the most dangerous tasks, such as suicide missions.

    "It’s deeply concerning," she said. "All children in Syria are suffering incredibly from the violence there, but to put children directly into battle is just beyond the pale."

    view video, photos and links at:


  9. Terrorist groups and cults have some things in common


    Carolle Tremblay is president, and Mike Kropveld is executive director, of Info-Cult, a Montreal-based non-profit group.

    Recent attacks by terrorists here and abroad have led some people to suggest that the process of radicalization is similar to cult recruitment. Some have stated that terrorist groups are cults.

    Whether or not they are, there is one striking similarity, and that is the violence that is perpetrated by some groups toward individuals and society.

    Info-Cult’s focus has been on how and why people join extremist and marginal groups, how these groups function, how they change over time and the role of leaders in these groups. The recent global concerns about radicalization, extremism and violence, therefore, are what we have been dealing with since we began operating in 1980.

    Not all groups that are labelled as cults or extremist groups are similar. A helpful way to understand the spectrum of groups in our society is to see them as existing on a continuum — from groups that are open and tolerant, with a leadership that is non-authoritarian and respectful toward their members and non-members, to groups that are closed and intolerant, with an authoritarian leadership that is disrespectful of its members and the rest of society. All groups fall somewhere in between the extremes. We have learned, however, that the high-control groups at the latter extreme are the ones that pose a higher potential risk of causing harm to their members and to society at large.

    The reality is that some people and certain groups will resort to violence as a means to achieve what they believe to be justifiable ends. This is not a new phenomenon.

    Witness such groups as the Symbionese Liberation Army (United States), the Baader-Meinhof Gang (Germany) and the Red Brigades (Italy). As Canada and other countries focus on radicalization as it pertains to Islamist groups and ideology, it is clear that followers of other extreme ideologies have resorted and will resort to violence. Timothy McVeigh and the bombing of a U.S. Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995 is one example that comes to mind.

    In most of these cases, youth and young adults who are recruited or join groups are looking for meaning in their lives. Bright and idealistic, many have lost confidence in society’s traditional institutions, and want to contribute to making the world a better place. We need to understand that those who are more vulnerable to the appeal of extreme or marginal groups are often going through a transition period, or they need an authority figure to tell them what to do. Feeling alone and adrift, they may also be looking for a sense of belonging to a group, where they feel special and part of a chosen elite.

    The need to believe and belong is a very powerful motivating force and can be easily manipulated by those groups seeking to gain new followers.

    Rather than simply finding labels to categorize groups as cults or death cults, or their members as fanatics, crazy or deranged, we should be focusing on why people join or are recruited into extremist groups, how these groups operate and what strategies can be deployed to counter them.

    Extremist groups have been with us for centuries and will not disappear.

    We need to be reminded that collaboration and communication between government agencies is vital. What’s more, individuals and groups across diverse cultures also have an instrumental role to play in countering extremism. Consultative forums can serve as an important means for sharing collective wisdom in order to determine responsible and effective responses to the phenomenon of extremism. By working together, we can play a significant role in countering the radicalization and extreme, violent acts that are becoming increasingly prevalent in our society.


  10. DeRadicalization Programs Offer Hope in Countering Terrorism

    by John G. Horgan, Los Angeles Times, 13 Feb. 2015

    The director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, Nicholas J. Rasmussen, told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday that the number of men and women joining Islamic State is on the rise. Of the 20,000 foreign fighters, he said, at least 3,400 have come from Western countries, including approximately 150 Americans who have either gone or tried to go to Syria.

    Most of those will die fighting someone else's battle. Some will survive, and possibly become more dangerous. But there also will be those who — broken, disillusioned and traumatized by what they have done or seen — will want to come home. What is to be done with them?

    I've traveled to Pakistan for the last two years to learn how the country rehabilitates and re-integrates former Taliban fighters. I've witnessed remarkable progress there, especially in the efforts to re-integrate former child militants. From seeing that and other programs in action, I have come to believe that de-radicalization can work. It is not a silver-bullet solution, nor can it ensure 100% success, but there is no doubt that de-radicalization programs can be tremendously effective in countering terrorism.

    Although they are becoming more common around the world, such programs remain an experiment in progress. Indeed, some operate in secret, waiting to see whether they are successful before the outside world learns of their existence. There may be as many as 40 worldwide, the best known of which are in Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Indonesia, Germany and Denmark. Newer ones have sprung up in places such as Somalia and Pakistan.

    These programs are diverse, but "de-radicalization" is a useful shorthand because most seek to change how former terrorists think. Do that, the assumption goes, and the risk of reengagement with terrorist activities goes way down.

    It might sound like cult deprogramming, but the reality is closer to halfway houses. Most programs are conducted in prisons with Islamist militants who have been apprehended by security forces or surrendered — but their actual crimes vary widely. Some have killed, while others have provided material support, but they are all classified as terrorists. Many of those undergoing rehabilitation in Pakistan are young boys, a few barely 10 years old. The goal is to resocialize them all, preparing them for re-integration into their communities. Programs I've looked at employ a combination of psychological therapies, counseling, religious instruction and activities aimed at promoting civic engagement.

    Collecting intelligence is also often a crucial feature of such programs. Participants may be required to publicly renounce terrorism and, in some cases, provide evidence against former comrades.

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  11. Some of the former terrorists I have interviewed told me they were deeply disillusioned with their groups long before they took steps to leave. Their reluctance to walk away was, in large part, because they saw no way out. In many countries, de-radicalization is a true second chance at life — the only real alternative to a lifetime in prison or a life on the run.

    In Pakistan, the focus is on re-integration. The community is directly involved, often providing support in the form of mentorship or jobs. The program is also supported by Pakistan's army; it came up with the idea for re-integration and provides security, which is crucial in areas affected by terrorist recruitment. The leadership of Pakistan's army knows that it has a responsibility to help restore hope of a future for these young citizens saved from a life of terrorism. This is not easy. Several officers I met had lifelong friends and colleagues killed by the same people now being rehabilitated. And yet, when I ask those officers how they feel about that, they say, we have no choice, we must try.

    The Pakistan programs also illustrate that de-radicalization isn't simply about ideological retraining. Programs must provide opportunities for young boys and adolescents if they are to stay disengaged from terrorism long term. Vocational training leading to a job is a vital factor in preventing recidivism. The programs also build trust between the army and the communities from which the militants were recruited.

    Could anything even close to this develop in the United States?

    Admittedly, there may be no social or political appetite for de-radicalization here. Some may just call for returning fighters to be imprisoned. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised that any fighters returning to his country would face guaranteed detention. Just this week, a Belgian court sentenced Fouad Belkacem to 12 years for helping arrange travel for young Belgians to Syria. In Britain, those who return from Syria might face treason charges, in some cases meriting a life sentence.

    Yet there is some hope.

    A few weeks ago in Minneapolis, 18-year-old Abdullahi Yusuf was charged with conspiracy to support a terrorist organization, which carries a sentence of as much as 15 years in prison. In May 2014, Yusuf had gotten a passport a few weeks before securing an airline ticket to Istanbul, allegedly intending to go to Syria.

    But rather than put Yusuf in jail while he awaits trial, a federal judge has sent him to a halfway house to see whether he can be integrated back into the community. It was the first clear example of trying rehabilitation and re-integration as an alternative to detention. It is too early to tell whether Yusuf's case provides a precedent, but it represents a remarkable, if risky, first step.

    No de-radicalization program should offer blanket amnesty, and we should put measures in place to evaluate their effectiveness. But it is time to get creative. The U.S. Department of Justice has begun to recognize this and just recently funded two academic research projects on de-radicalization. There are enormous benefits to be gained. After all, it is only by understanding the motivations and experiences of those who have gone to fight abroad that we can prevent the recruitment of another generation of militants.

    John G. Horgan is the director of the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell.


  12. How does a normal student like Seifeddine Rezgui turn into a cold-blooded murderer?

    The Tunisia gunman was an ordinary boy who loved breakdancing and Real Madrid. So how was he induced to massacre innocent people?

    By Prof Ian Robertson, Telegraph.co.uk June 30, 2015

    The father of Tunisian gunman Seifeddine Rezgui said on Sunday that Islamist extremists had “ruined my son’s brain … with horrid thoughts and ideas, they broke him.”

    He is right.

    Seifeddine Rezgui was almost certainly indoctrinated into a worldwide cult that has made acquired political capital using social media just as Facebook and other companies have made financial capital.

    The methods used are the same as all cults have used for centuries, from the 12th century Persian and Syrian Assassins to the doomed followers of Jim Jones in 20th century America. These groups had to physically search out the vulnerable, groom them face to face, “love bomb” them, isolate them from their normal circles and then gradually desensitise them to more and more extreme ideas.

    Rezgui’s indoctrinators used the power of social media to fast-track this process and embrace him into a murderous cult. They are doing this with thousands of vulnerable people in most countries of the world, grooming, isolating and desensitising them from a physical distance of thousands of miles, but a digital distance which is intimately face-to-face.

    Sunday’s New York Times gave a perfect description of this process of indoctrination of a vulnerable young American Sunday-school teacher by a radical English recruiter she had never met. Even without any face to face contact, the standard cult-induction methods were used to get her gradually to accept more and more extreme ideas, culminating in the moral acceptability of suicide bombing.

    Rezgui was by all accounts a normal young man, a soccer supporter who enjoyed breakdancing to western music but who, after his first year in university, according to a fellow student, showed a marked changed in demeanour. He began to spend more and more time with an extreme Salafi group advocating jihad, and becoming close to its leader, a man called Rashed.

    This group did indeed ruin Rezgui’s brain to the point that he came to believe that it was not only acceptable, but actually virtuous, to massacre helpless men, women and children as they enjoyed the simple, harmless pleasures of human existence.
    Rezgui, as far as we know, did not start out as a deviant with some sort of disordered personality – the video of him enjoying the simple human exuberance of dancing testifies to this. He wasn’t a failure in life – he was in university, studying, and, for the first year there, apparently happy.

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  13. Cult recruiters sniff out vulnerability and isolation and who knows, perhaps there was something about Rezgui that made him vulnerable. But maybe in certain febrile socio-political climates, personal vulnerability is less crucial for the indoctrinator.

    But for sure, Rashed and his fellow recruiters would have made Rezgui feel very special, very respected, very good about himself – this is the love bombing. At the same time they would have insisted on him severing his links with anyone but the cult – this is the isolation that is essential to every cult.

    And isolation is crucial because if you control the human contact, then you can control the mind. And then you can systematically re-programme the values and moral compass of the person. “Desensitisation” means gradually exposing people to ever increasing “doses” of an idea.

    This can happen in the body to allergens – it is possible to eliminate some allergies by gradually exposing the person to slightly increasing doses of the substance that otherwise produces an allergic reaction. The body can gradually adapt, from the first tiny exposure, through moderate exposures, until finally the allergic response no longer happens.

    The same can be true for ideas, if you perfectly control the mind’s exposure to them. First you come to accept that unbelievers are worthless, then that they are spitting in the face of god by flaunting their bodies on these godless beaches. These are not humans, because humans are defined by god, and they are godless. And the rest follows ….

    Professor Ian Robertson is a psychologist and author of The Winner Effect (Bloomsbury). He blogs at www.ianrobertson.org and tweets @ihrobertson.


  14. Brainwashing? There should be a law against it

    by Anne Khodabandeh, December 9, 2015

    Anne Khodabandeh, a leading authority on cultic abuse and terrorism, works as a consultant within the remit of the UK Prevent Duty. After twenty years in the MEK, a dangerous, destructive mind control cult, she helps families through Iran-Interlink.

    Leeds, UK - Shocking revelations about Maoist cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan and his female victims in a suburb of London shone a light on the normally hidden phenomenon of cultic abuse which pervades society. The danger now will be that this is treated as just another sensational story before being placed on a journalistic ‘bizarre incident’ list along with Jonestown, Wako and Heaven’s Gate, as a freak occurrence.

    Sadly, practitioners in the field of cult awareness know of thousands of lonely families suffering the loss of loved ones to cultic abuse with little recourse to help or even acknowledgement.

    As a former member of the political cult Mojahedin Khalq, I am intimately familiar with the methods which Balakrishnan used to control and exploit his victims. As this case has highlighted, for a person caught up in cultic abuse there is no exit, they are in fact modern slaves. Indeed, the 2005 report on the MEK by Human Rights Watch was named ‘No Exit’.

    If the experience of the daughter and the other victims in the Balakrishnan case are to teach us anything, it is that this is more common than we’d like to believe and that such ghastly behaviour – much like child abuse - thrives on secrecy and collusion; that is, the unwillingness of successive governments to acknowledge this as a widespread problem. More than anything we need to explode the myth that cults are about religion. They are not. The illusion that ‘new religious movements’ are relatively harmless belongs thirty years in the past. But for years, families and former cult members have been dismissed, even denigrated, as hysterical, malicious or delusional or have been exploited for entertainment by the media. No wonder they are reluctant to speak out.

    Even when families do bravely confront the cults which have enslaved their loved ones, they find themselves battling litigation, intimidation and disbelief.

    Government failure to engage with this phenomenon has left the public unprotected. While civil law protects a designated group of vulnerable people from undue influence, cult experts argue that anyone can be susceptible to deceptive cult recruitment at some point in their lives; people are usually in a state of transitioning when they get involved in cults. This emphasis on susceptibility not vulnerability is an important distinction because it places culpability directly on the intention and activities of the perpetrator rather than looking for deficiencies in the victims. The Balakrishnan cult case is unusual because the leader was prosecuted, not just because the victims were rescued.

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  15. Interestingly techniques for deceptive psychological manipulation are already acknowledged and understood in various modern contexts where coercive persuasion is used for cynical exploitation and enslavement. These include partner abuse, grooming for sex, spiritual abuse, abusive therapy, extremist violence and terrorism. All these are regarded as morally repugnant. But as yet we lack a law which covers the activity which underlies them all.

    In the modern vernacular, the term brainwashing is used by ordinary people exactly to describe an unaccountable change of mind and/or personality in an otherwise normal person. Bewildered families of young people travelling to Syria say their children have been brainwashed. The government needs to catch up with scientific and social understanding of this phenomenon if we are to be protected. Are MPs aware, for example, not whether, but how many fully brainwashed cult members are working in sensitive national security roles? We know they exist because as cult counsellors we talk with their families. Yet the phenomenon is glossed over as almost immaterial.

    Cultic abuse - known in the vernacular as brainwashing - has a very precise definition. It is not about ‘using advertising to brainwash us into buying things’ or ‘brainwashing us into becoming docile citizens under government dictates’. These are false and unhelpful myths. Neuropsychology explains that ‘changing your mind’ is a physical experience which can be scientifically identified. Brainwashing is not about doctrine, it is about the psychologically manipulative techniques used to literally ‘change’ our minds.

    In more legalistic terms it is ‘the deliberate and systematic application of an array of recognised techniques for psychological manipulation without the knowledge or informed consent of the victim in order to effect a breach of a person’s mental, emotional, intellectual and social integrity for the purposes of abuse, exploitation, slavery and/or pecuniary gain, and to so inhibit their critical faculties that they do not recognise their own predicament so that they may act in ways harmful to their best interests and the interests of society on instruction or by command or by neglect.

    The advantage of criminalising cultic abuse in this way is that it is ideologically neutral and does not reflect any particular belief system but straightforwardly describes harmful behaviour. This would protect all our citizens and an obvious place would be an amendment to the newModern Slavery Bill passed in March.

    Prime Minister David Cameron has already uttered the word brainwashing in speeches about Radicalisation. There was no public outcry or panic. Ordinary people know what he means. What a law would do is to give a precise definition which would allow us to ‘join the dots’ between seemingly disparate events like the Balakrishnan cult, the Rotherham grooming for sex scandal and terrorist recruitment.

    Indeed, public apprehension over the war on terrorism in Syria and the perceived threat of blowback, is the perfect opportunity for the government to introduce and explain the phenomenon of brainwashing in this narrowly defined sense as an element of the Prevent Strategy. The introduction of a criminal offence which allows the detection, prosecution and punishment of this abhorrent behaviour will aid public understanding and allay fears.


  16. ISIS defeat impossible without help for indoctrinated child soldiers, says Roméo Dallaire

    CBC Radio, The Current March 11, 2016


    CONNIE WALKER: Hi I'm Connie Walker and this is the Friday edition of The Current.

    Guests: Nikita Malik, ROMÉO DALLAIRE


    VOICE 1: The boys say they are sat in front of big screens and forced to watch videos of ISIS brutality. Propaganda videos like this which shows the recent execution of Syrian soldiers in Palmyra.

    VOICE 2: They show us how to kill the Bashar’s soldiers.

    VOICE 1: Ahmed is 11.

    VOICE 2: Sometimes we tried not to watch, but when we did watch, we were scared.

    VOICE 1: They say they are forced to watch real executions, too.

    [speaking in another language]

    VOICE 1: But perhaps most disturbingly of all, ISIS releases videos showing executions being carried out by boys themselves.

    CW: Of all the unconscionable acts perpetrated by the jihadist group ISIS, their recruitment and indoctrination of children would seem a particularly egregious assault on the innocent. The children are known as Caliphate Cubs and they're used to fight and to die in Syria and Iraq. We just heard part of a documentary about these children produced for Channel Four in the U.K. and Frontline on PBS. It's one of the few glimpses we've had into the lives of these children, but two new studies are shedding more light now. And what they found is quite sobering. Researchers at Georgia State University have found that ISIS is recruiting and sending children into battle at an unprecedented rate, and researchers at the Quilliam Foundation, a think tank that studies extremism, found that ISIS is aggressively building a new generation of fighters and indoctrinating them with an extremist base curriculum from birth. Both sets of findings raise critical concerns about a generation growing up knowing nothing but the world of the Caliphate. Joining me first from London, England is Nikita Malik. She is a senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation and co-author of its report, The Children of the Islamic State. Hello.

    NIKITA MALIK: Hello.

    CW: Can you start by telling us how you compiled this study?

    NIKITA MALIK: We spent six months up to February 2016 this year itemizing and collecting propaganda released by the Islamic State that shows children, and what we found was shocking, both in the sheer scale of the propaganda that we were able to analyze which was 254 unique pieces of propaganda showing children. And also what was shocking, was the nature of the propaganda. While there was up to 38 percent of the propaganda showing violence, either children committing acts of violence themselves or becoming normalized to violence through watching beheadings and executions either on the TV or in real life. There was also a large amount of use of children who are from Islamic State birding project or its Utopia project, where children are shown in schools, they're shown really in an educational infrastructure to tempt any families that might be radicalized in thinking about making a migration to the Islamic State, that there is an infrastructure in place for these children, an educational system that is more pure than what they might be learning in corrupt states.

    CW: How important are children to ISIS in the current fight, and also in the long term?

    NIKITA MALIK: Very important. I would say that they're important on three levels. The first is in the primary level where, as we saw, they are committing acts of violence themselves and so they're either in the front lines serving as executioners, serving as spies. The second is in terms of the family. This becomes a mutually reinforcing cycle where children normalize violence to the family.

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  17. They talk about the importance of the State, the Islamic State to the family. It's about legitimacy and the family feeds back to the children. And the third level is, of course, as future actors, because once these children grow up, they will be fully fledged adult fighters, and very lethal fighters at that because of the educational system that we've seen which normalizes violence in textbooks itself, where there might be pictures of guns and tanks used in the primary school textbook to count objects. So, they serve three purposes really.

    CW: How do they access the children? How are they recruited, where do they come from?

    NIKITA MALIK: The majority of children are abducted, but there are many ways that they incentivize children to join, either through ideology, so a sense of identity that the family plays a key role in this as well. We did a historical analysis looking at how some states’ use of children is based on a historical way like the Nazi regime used children or African states have used children. But what is different about this case is how the family is key to this process as well, in indoctrinating children. Whereas before, children would have spied on the family, now we have multiple actors all indoctrinating children together so they can be coerced as well in terms of economic pay.

    CW: How old are the kids that we're talking about?

    NIKITA MALIK: The definition of a child is below the age of 18, but the youngest child we've seen is the picture that Siddhartha Dhar, a fighter from the United Kingdom, took out of his newborn baby and he's holding a newborn baby in his arms and a gun in the other hand. So, it can be a spectrum of ages and as a result, the level of the abuse and the normalization to violence and the act of violence these kids have had to commit, can vary based on their age and their cognitive abilities because often they just don't know what they're doing or what they've been told to say for the cameras.

    CW: Well, we just heard that really disturbing description of the children being shown executions. What more can you tell us about what they're teaching these kids?

    NIKITA MALIK: The curriculum is very biased in the sense that ideas such as lessons in geography and history have all been changed. Their history lessons will glorify the Islamic State. Geography, for example, will only list continents. Couple that with physical education training which could have hand-eye coordination learning how to use guns. Girls are taught a very gendered education really about being good mothers and they're taught how to sew and weave and so as we've seen in the past with totalitarian regimes, the education has been manipulated to teach these children a very biased way of life. What we're seeing here is also the additional layer of a religious education which is also very biased, you know, situating the Islamic State as the superior land and all other countries as inferior, teaching these young children actually to hate all countries besides the one that they're growing up in.

    CW: You mention the precedents of other regimes using children. What is the precedent of the other regimes? Can you describe a little bit about what the models are that ISIS is using?

    NIKITA MALIK: The way that the regimes have used children in the past is really in terms of in the front lines of war. What we're seeing here, which is a bit different, is this investment in children, so this idea that they are a future generation. So, they're not just being used as suicide bombers and soldiers but really for a much longer state building project, and that is why the propaganda we saw with this Utopia, these pictures of happy children in schools, was also very interesting.

    CW: Mia Bloom at Georgia State University has also been studying how ISIS uses children. Let's listen to what she's found in her research.

    continued below


    MIA BLOOM: The unique part is, we talked about the fact that since 1996, for the most part countries that engage or use child soldiers or use children in any capacity, hit it. They weren’t bragging about it. This level of boasting is really unusual where the children are front and centre in the propaganda. And in fact, the children are used in ways that really push the envelope. First, either being present at executions and passing out the weapons or passing out the knife for an execution, then shooting someone in the head, to the point that two weeks ago you had a four year old detonating an IED in which three people were killed in the car. The idea is that they're always pushing the envelope and they're using the children in such a way to have the greatest amount of shock value, but also they boast about the fact that you know, these kids are fully fledged fighters. It's to convey this idea that the children will be born into a radical environment. They don't need to be taught radical views, they will have these views from an early age.

    CW: What do you think of what Mia Bloom is saying?

    NIKITA MALIK: What we found, which is what she said exactly, is that propaganda tends to be used for two different reasons. The first is shock value, which is when the State tends to be in a position of weakness. So, they will release these videos of children doing brutal things to show the rest of the world that they are still strong and gain attention. What we also found, was that these other videos, these normal videos of children reading textbooks, children looking happy, children in the playground, these Utopian state building videos, are released when Iraq and Syria and the Islamic State regions within them, feel that they are doing okay. These videos are used to show audiences to come and join them and to show them that there is an infrastructure in place.

    CW: What are the long term consequences for these children?

    NIKITA MALIK: They are very dire. We can see that this is an inevitable problem in which children would have suffered severe mental, physical, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and historically in other cases that we've seen in African nations for example, where children have had to be re-integrated, it's taken them a long time to be re-integrated. And sometimes, re-integration approaches have not worked. So we have here an entire generational problem, a very sad generational problem and we simply don't have enough people talking about this problem, which is why we wanted to release this report at this time.

    CW: Well, thank you very much for joining us.

    NIKITA MALIK: My pleasure, thank you for having me.

    CW: Nikita Malik is the senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation and co-author of its report, The Children of the Islamic State. The number of children currently fighting for ISIS or being groomed to do so raises questions about military operations against them now and in the future as that young generation grows up. Retired Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire is founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, which is committed to ending the use of child soldiers. General Dallaire joins me from our studio in London, Ontario. Hello.

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: Good morning.

    CW: Good morning. From a military perspective, why is it important to address the ISIS use of child soldiers?

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: Let me first state that the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative participated actively in this report. In fact, our Executive Director, Dr. Shelley Whitman was there at the announcement and participated in providing the information and we have provided insights from the last seven years of work in regards to the use of children as weapons of war, and looking at children as a threat assessment and not as a purely social economic problem, which is now becoming so evident with ISIS as they have pushed the envelope in the use of these children.

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  19. CW: Can ISIS be defeated without a strategy on child soldiers?

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: No. There is no way that we would be able to defeat that capability because it is multi-generational and it is built on depth of inculcating this way of thinking, this way of life, not only in the children but also in the number of the families that are caught up in this Islamic State, and they are grooming them and continuously engaging them as the children keep growing up. They have become, not a sort of sidebar of the conflict, the children have become a primary weapon system. So, this is not replacing or adding a small component to already an adult fight. What it is, is a primary instrument of the adult war and in fact, being driven by the abundance and the strength that they've been able to inculcate in these children by this indoctrination.

    CW: So, how does that mean their particular use of child soldiers changed the way then you have to approach the fight against ISIS?

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: Well, remembering that up until even in Afghanistan, we have seen that military forces have looked at child soldiers as either a social or economic problem that is to say you know, a sidebar to the problem and in fact, over the last ten years, of over 180 peace agreements, we've seen only ten that have even mentioned the use of children. But, the position that the military have taken has been one of simply treating them as another belligerent which has caused significant psychological problems on our own soldiers who end up having to use lethal force against children.

    CW: What are the rules of engagement when it comes to child soldiers?

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: Well, the first rule is that you have the right to self-defense, and the second rule is that if, depending on what the scenario is, you try to deflate the situation at a checkpoint or position of confrontation by trying to reduce the presence between the two forces by negotiations, by discussions and only in extremes will you use force. And there's only one army that had anything written. A US Marine Corps that said avoid confrontation with child soldiers. We've been stumbling into these conflicts for the last 25 years where the children have been the primary weapon system, and simply saying well they are no different than the adults and we take the same actions and that has proven to be ineffective because it hasn't in any way, shape, or form reduced the use of children. On the contrary, we have seen increase of the use of children and ISIS has even pushed it to the next level of using in the most extreme scenarios.

    CW: So one ally in the fight against ISIS are the Kurds and they're involved in direct combat with ISIS. Here is one Kurdish fighter speaking with CNN.


    VOICE OF TRANSLATOR: Many times when we were fighting ISIS, we see children at the front line. They are wearing explosive vests. They are brainwashed. When they make it through our lines, they kill our fighters. It’s an invariable hard decision. You don't know what to do. If you don't kill them, they'll kill you.

    CW: It's unimaginable. What should they be doing in this scenario?

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: The difference about the child being strapped in with the dynamite is the fact that we have this respect of children and we really don't want to engage with them and so the extremists will use that reticence of us wanting to go against this sort of ethical and moral dilemma of using force, and that permits them to move the kids in closer and to be more effective. The only way to counter that, is to have a new generation of tactics from a doctrine that faces specifically the use of children in a variety of formats that they're used which includes, in extreme, the child soldier suicide bomber. But, there's a multitude of other scenarios in which they're being used that you can, in fact, use a new set of tactics that we have developed.

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  20. And this last week, we have trained the NATO commands in Brussels into this new training program, and we've been discussing with the Canadian Forces, as they are going to be implementing this capability also, and the African Union has asked us to implement that in a number of the countries that they're deploying throughout that continent.

    CW: So, this is part of Canada's anti-ISIS mission, to provide this training to Kurds. So, this is going to be offered to those people helping to train in those areas?

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: Yes, well we are, first of all we've got to train our own. And that's why we lost last month our program where we're going to be hiring up to 100 Canadian veterans who will be the trainers of the trainers. We will first of all train our own, we will train those in countries that have already asked us for their support as we go into South Sudan, we have been in Rwanda, we're going to Uganda, we're in the Congo and also, we will then use our training forces and our trainers to train those forces on the ground, like the Kurds. We were in Jordan and we were asked to go and look at how to train the Kurds with this new tactical capability that takes away the strategic value. And I'm making a great difference here, these tactical skills, these tactical advantages that the children provide them, are very much part of their strategic plan. So, if we can make our forces more effective against them without simply killing them all, and also living the consequences of our own soldiers who are psychologically affected by that, if we can reduce the effect of those children then strategically they will be less useful by the adults and that way we can start treating those forces and ultimately work towards ending the fight.

    CW: So back to the training. The government has agreed to add this training, specific to child soldiers, to our mission?

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: I met with the Minister of Defense, I met with the Chief of defense staff, we are meeting once again on the, I think the 21st of March where we'll be walking through the details the staff have been working on. We hope that that will be integrated into the training processes. I’ve even got a meeting with the Special Forces Command so that they do leave our shores with this new capability that we've been able to put together.

    CW: So, I'd like to play you one last clip from Mia Bloom at Georgia State University. Have a listen.


    MIA BLOOM: Part of the challenge right now is, on the one hand, preventing the entree of children into the militant groups and then the other challenge is how do you rehabilitate them? The DDR programs are going to have to look very different from DDR programs in Africa because those programs successfully used religion as a tool to get people back into the fold, you know, rehabilitated, de-radicalized, de-mobilized. Here, religion has been distorted and also families played a crucial role in Africa, whereas in these instances, it's not that the parents are dead, the parents are colluding with the terrorists. So, it is really a very different set of opportunities and constraints.

    CW: DDR is referring to disarmament, de-mobilization and reintegration programs that are a common part of post-conflict peace implementation. So, General Dallaire, let's walk through some of that. First, getting to children before ISIS does to prevent their radicalization. How realistic is that in this conflict?

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: ISIS has some of the same basic employment and recruitment means that others, for example in Africa, have used both that was explained earlier on, by coercion, by abduction and the like. The difference that we're seeing is yes, the introduction of that indoctrination that is far beyond just a sort of political process, it's a way of life process, and that includes the families.

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  21. How we're going to break that is in fact, one of the areas of our concern and study in how to separate that child of indoctrination from the State indoctrination that's going on. The second dimension to that is, as you were saying, the DDR, now the DDR yes, has got de-mobilization, it's got rehabilitation in there, and not only the re-integration and rehabilitation as was said in the past in, and currently, in Africa has been reasonably effective because we've been able to work with the families of the communities and the like. In the case of ISIS, that dimension is also being put into question. Even though, if I may say, that all the DDR work has not necessarily reduced the willingness of people wanting to use child soldiers. We spend billions on rehabilitation and re-integration of children, but people keep recruiting the numbers and so that hasn't decreased. In the case of how we're going to handle the ISIS scenario, it is in fact, a new dimension of how to ensure that there's no re-recruitment of these children because you've got the child that has been de-mobilized, you've got a scenario of education of can you establish, through working with agencies like UNICEF and so on, who have been very much integrated into a lot of the re-education, rehabilitation, re-integration. So, how do we adjust that scenario? But, it's also how in fact—

    CW: How do you address that scenario? What are the prospects for de-radicalizing these kids?

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: That is exactly the core of the rehabilitation thematic that the NGOs are now working on and what we are assisting them with because de-radicalization on youth, the more we can achieve that ability to do that earlier, the easier it is and the longer we've let these conflicts fester, the more in depth these kids get the older they get, and the more ingrained it is because they grew up with that themselves. Examples even back home, we are currently working with four police forces in Canada who have asked us to assist them in the prevention of our kids being recruited. Looking at that de-radicalization and the extremism that our own kids get involved in, and so the youth gangs and the [indecipherable] gangs and how through the community work-- and so the breakthroughs, I believe, as the work we've been able to identify so far, has been how will we be able to influence the community and the agencies that can work with the communities to bring those children from that radicalized position into a stabilized one. Nikita pointed out quite clearly in the Quilliam work that we've been doing with them, is that's the core of the future is how to get the communities to shift gears, the families to shift gears and to prevent and those kids from finding themselves back into institutions that use violence as a pedagogical tool in for their future.

    CW: Well, a lot of work to do. Thank you very much for joining us to talk about this.

    ROMÉO DALLAIRE: We're looking very much to trying to assist in finally making us realise that the more we let all these conflicts fester with children, the longer they're going to be generational, they're going to be sustained and we will not stop at, nor win, and we will certainly not prevent our security from being at risk. Thank you.

    CW: Retired Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire is founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, an organization committed to ending the use of child soldiers. I'm Connie Walker, thanks for listening to the Friday edition of The Current.