Staunton, May 18 – Islamic radicals are focusing on ever younger people, Gevorg Minasyan of the CIS Anti-Terrorism Center says. Over the last decade, its recruits have declined in age from 27 to 12 to 13, with Islamists using the Internet and especially computer games to begin the recruiting process for young people in Russia and other CIS countries.
Moscow and other CIS capitals, he continues, had been focusing on Islamist approaches to students and junior specialists in the oil, military and medical professions. But in response, ISIS recruiters have “changed tactics.” Five years ago, they were recruiting people at the age of nine. Now, they focus on children as young as six (rg.ru/2018/05/17/kak-musulmane-otbiraiut-islam-u-radikalov.html).
One of the reasons they have had success, Minasyan and other experts say, is that in computer games, most players have multiple lives, something that sends the message that “online death is conditional and life is easily reset. This devalues death in the eyes of children and is used by the recruiters.”
Ramzil Valeyev of the Tatarstan State Council says that Russian schools must explain “to children that reality is not virtual and that the Internet is not anonymous.” But that is a challenge because young people spend an increasing number of hours each day online and accept the Internet’s values which Islamists can easily exploit.