In fact, a neighbor of the terrorist, Erica Gasparri, an Italian mother with three children, reported him to the police two years ago after realizing he was “brainwashing” her children.
“He was trying to radicalize the children, he would go down to the park and talk to them about Islam. He also came to the houses and gave the kids money and sweets during Ramadan,” Gasparri said, speaking to The Telegraph.
Gasparri confronted him after one of her children came home from a local park saying, “Mummy, I want to become a Muslim” after encounters with him.
Children are increasingly becoming targets for radicals. Their tactics range from threats, force and intimidation to more subtle methods of brainwashing through the media and school systems.
Regardless of the methodology used, the end goal is the same: to raise a generation of kids who believe the West is the enemy and must be destroyed.
This radicalization is also happening at home, in the United States. Extremists are using social media to reach a broader audience and lure Western teenagers into joining terrorist organizations. According to the FBI, there are currently ISIS-related investigations in all 50 states, and more than 30% of the Americans charged with ISIS-related activities are under the age of 20.
Get a sneak peek of Clarion’s next film KiDS: Inside the Terror Factory (working title), which documents the exploitation and radicalization of children by Islamist extremists.
American Salafist Preacher Ahmad Musa Jibril
Through the internet and social media, Ahmad Jibril spews his extremism. One of the London terrorists was reportedly radicalized by watching Jibril’s videos.
When a friend of the terrorist noticed he was becoming radicalized through the videos, he reported him to British authorities, who, unfortunately, did not arrest him.
“He used to listen to a lot of Musa Jibril. I have heard some of this stuff and its very radical. I am surprised this stuff is still on YouTube and is easily accessible. I phoned the anti-terror hotline. I spoke to the gentleman. I told him about our conversation and why I think he was radicalized.”
Jihadis have become extremely adroit at exploiting the internet, using it as a powerful tool to radicalize and recruit to their cause.
The Trojan Horse Scandal
Beginning in 2014, authorities investigated at least a dozen independent Muslim schools in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets because of evidence that Islamic extremists took over the schools.
The investigation followed similar inquiries into secular schools in Birmingham that were found to have been infiltrated by Muslim extremists. The investigations were dubbed the Trojan Horse scandal and revealed that attempts to introduce Islamist or Salafist ideology into the UK schools were ongoing for 20 years.
In 2015, a Quebec television program exposed schools – some publicly funded — owned by organizations that have a history of supporting terrorism.
Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is notorious for its project called the “Caliphate Cubs” to radicalize the next generation to work for the organization and its goal of creating a worldwide caliphate run by sharia law.One project, which targets young children, is an app, which ostensibly teaches the letters of the Arabic alphabet but places violent imagery and songs to indoctrinate children. Children are rewarded if they say they are prepared to carry out attacks on the West, with targets including the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower.
In its territory, ISIS kidnaps and brainwashes children through its terror training camps. The group releases many videos showing these camps and child executioners.
Hamas and the Palestinian Authority
A television show for pre-schoolers, a theater contest at a school, hit songs that encourage the use of “cleavers and knives” – are among mediums used by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to teach Palestinian children to hate Jews and incite them to punch, stab, shoot and otherwise kill the “enemy.”
Palestinian textbooks teach their children that Israel has no right to exist; the Palestinian Authority uses sports events to glorify terrorists, naming tournaments and festivals after the most gruesome killers; Hitler is held up as the ultimate role model in PA schools and on their Facebook pages; and P.A. media teaches children the pleasure and rewards of martyrdom.
As if that was not enough, Hamas provides military training and indoctrination for kids through their summer camps in which Palestinian children receive paramilitary training, including how to make a homemade rocket and how to fire guns (training uses live ammunition).
Al-Shabaab, the brutal Islamist terror organization responsible for the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, recruits children for use as soldiers. Children are lured to join the group through the use of extremist propaganda and material rewards.
Religious events in mosques provide fertile ground for recruitment as well. Mosques in the United States, in areas with heavy Somali immigrant populations, such as Minnesota, have also played roles in recruiting older boys, even those born and raised in the U.S.
Al-Shabaab has also proven remarkably sophisticated in its use of the Internet to post recruitment appeals aimed directly at young Somali-Americans that feature glorified battle scenes and personal testimonials from Somali-Americans already among its ranks.
Clarion’s next film KiDS: Inside the Terror Factory (working title) documents the exploitation and radicalization of children by Islamist extremists. KiDS will feature compelling personal stories of children and their families who are being actively influenced by extremists and activists who are working to confront this growing global threat. The film is currently in production.