Countries whose citizens have joined the ranks of the Daesh terrorist group in Iraq and Syria have long been warning about the menace the extremists pose to global security upon return from conflict zones. In addition, the terrorists have repeatedly called on fellow members to launch attacks in their home countries, similar to those carried out in the French capital Paris last November, which left some 130 people dead. Some have even warned that child Daesh recruits can add a new dimension to the security risk posed by the Takfiris, with a recent study comparing the gravity of the threat to that of a “time bomb”.
The study by a non-profit organization based in Bosnia, which has the largest number of militants from the Western Balkans countries fighting in Iraq and Syria, said on Monday that out of an estimated 188 Bosnian militants who had gone to the two countries from 2012 to the end of last year, 47 had returned while 50 others had been killed in the three-year period.
As of April 2015, there were 52 women and 80 children from Serbia in the two neighboring Arab countries, while less than half of the Bosnians there were fit for military service, said the Atlantic Initiative research, an advance copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
Citing social media and witnesses, the study said boys start military training at the age of 13 or 14 before taking up actual combat roles, adding that at least one Bosnian minor was killed during a militant operation.
"We are seeing a completely new generation of children who were raised on the battlefield or near the battlefield," said Vlado Azinovic, an associate professor at the University of Sarajevo’s Faculty of Political Sciences and a co-author of the study, adding, "They are like a time bomb for any country they may end up in."
Militants from other Western Balkans countries such as Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, have also joined fellow Serbians in their terrorist campaign against the Syrian and Iraqi people.
The research also said the flow of militants between Syria and Bosnia had almost ground to a halt by early this year as the Bosnian government intensified prosecuting prospective militants and those returning from the conflict zones in the Middle East.
The study comes hot on the heels of a Wall Street Journalreport last week, which said Western Daesh militants are seeking their countries’ help in securing return to their motherlands amid the Takfiri group’s heavy losses on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria.
Some of the Daesh militants have contacted diplomatic missions in Turkey while others have secretly sought their governments’ help in leaving dwindling Daesh-held territory, said the report, citing diplomats who represent six Western missions in Turkey and a militant group that helps the defectors in returning to their Western countries.
Since last fall, when the number of defections began to rise, some 150 militants from six Western countries have sought help to return from Syria’s Raqqah and the Iraqi city of Fallujah, where government and allied volunteer forces in both neighboring countries have simultaneously managed to tighten the noose around Daesh in two of the biggest operations yet against the Takfiris.
A report by the London-based think-tank Quilliam said in March that Daesh uses a variety of techniques, such as encouraging children to play football with decapitated heads, to normalize brutality among children. The terror group is indoctrinating children from birth, using an education system similar to that devised by the Nazis, to create a generation “more lethal than themselves,” it said.
There “is a very long-term preparation for these children to grow up with severe… indoctrination,” said Nikita Malik, a senior researcher at Quilliam.
In February, a Georgia State University research revealed that over the past 13 months, 89 boys aged eight to 18 had been killed while fighting in the ranks of Daesh. The study also said about 270 children, many of whom foreign nationals, were killed while carrying out Daesh militant operations, including car bombings, in 2014 alone. Six percent of those killed are believed to be aged between eight and 12, while 60 percent aged between 12 and 16.
"There is no way that we can envisage a post-Daesh world, unless we can really think carefully about how we are going to demobilize, disarm and reintegrate these children into normal life. There aren't really any good precedents for a violent extremist organization like Daesh indoctrinating children on such a wide scale,” said Charlie Winter, one of the report's co-authors.
Meanwhile, a British kid who has appeared in many Daesh propaganda videos is reported to have been smuggled by her mother to Sweden from Raqqah to undergo a medical operation. Four-year-old Isa Dare and her mum Grace, who now calls herself Khadija, have likely crossed nine countries to make it to Sweden, the home country of his mother’s second husband, British daily The Sun reported on June 6.
Some 25,000 Daesh militants are still in Iraq and Syria, according to a recent estimate by Lisa Monaco, US President Barack Obama’s adviser on homeland security and counter-terrorism.
There were about 20,000 foreign militants, including 4,500 Westerners, in Iraq and Syria a year ago. Western officials estimate several hundred of the disillusioned extremists have so far returned to their European home countries.
source : presstv