European officials are reportedly worried by a rising trend of Islamic State-inspired attacks by young children.
A 12-year-old Iraqi refugee child was arrested Dec. 15 for trying to use a nail bomb to blow up a German Christmas market. The arrest was preceded by a brutal ax attack by a 17-year-old Afghan refugee, who hacked four tourists before being neutralized by German authorities. In both cases the assailants were inspired by ISIS propaganda.
The week before the 12-year-old’s arrest German police arrested two boys, ages 15 and 17, for plotting a terror attack on a public building in Bavaria. The two young boys had ISIS flags among their possessions, mirroring the flag found among the Afghan refugee’s possessions.
European Union records indicate 83,000 refugee children arrived in 2015 without being accompanied by a parent. Ninety-one percent of these unaccompanied minors were male, and nearly 51 percent originated in Afghanistan. ISIS-inspired attacks do not only derive perpetrators from refugee populations; some suspects are born and raised in Europe.
ISIS propaganda long features child soldiers carrying out executions, and taking classes on warfare in Iraq and Syria. The terrorist group calls the children, “Lion cubs of the caliphate.” Despite this, Europe’s counter-radicalization programs do not focus attention on children.
Most programs focus on males in their young twenties, the demographic most associated with terrorist attacks. The main suspect in Monday’s Berlin truck attack is a 23-year-old Tunisian refugee, who applied for asylum in Germany nine months ago.
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