by Dare Lawal
Two sad photos of kids in terrorists training camps in northeastern Nigeria have been released by a media group, al-Urwa-al-Wuthaqa, which is associated with Boko Haram.
The kids, believed to be both boys and girls were seen dressed in dark clothing and covered heads aiming their guns in one photo and posing in the other. While some are seen holding AK47 assault rifles, others are holding cutouts of weapons.
The photos were shared on 25th January via its Twitter handle, مؤسسة العروة الوثقى @Alurwa_Alwuthqa, with messages in Arabic, which when translated means “Photo of Cubs nation.. Generation of conquest and victory.”
American magazine, Newsweek, quotes Max Abrahms, a professor of political science at Northwestern University and member at the Council of Foreign Relations, saying, “Terrorist organisations have power in numbers. The more members in the group, the greater its capability. There is a correlation between the membership size of a terrorist group and its ability to inflict bloodshed. Terrorist groups will often try to amass the most members as possible even if they’re young boys or girls.”
Andrew Noakes, coordinator of the Nigeria Security Network, says the group are struggling to recruit fighters, having “started alienating local people across northeast Nigeria with their brutal tactics”.
“To fill the gap they’ve turned to recruiting children and recruiting in neighbouring countries,” he says. “Boko Haram often uses its child soldiers and other forced recruits to form the first wave of an attack, before sending in the more experienced fighters to finish off operations.”
Abrahms also believes that because the group has ambitions of creating an eternal caliphate, in the same vein as ISIS, it indoctrinates children in the hope that its message will be continued by the young soldiers.
“[ISIS] has ambitions in building up a caliphate for eternity. I think Boko Haram shares this aspiration certainly in Nigeria and the indoctrination of youth is important not just for fielding an army against the Nigerian military, but also breeding a future generation of like-minded sympathisers.”