The Islamic State group has been recruiting refugee children by paying smugglers’ fees, the Guardian reported Saturday. The terrorist organization offered to pay up to $2,000 to recruit members from refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, according to a report by international counter-extremism group Quilliam.
Quilliam’s report estimated some 88,300 unaccompanied children, which the European Union police agency said had been reported missing, were at risk of being recruited by ISIS officials working within refugee camps to find new members. ISIS and other jihadist groups like Boko Haram have all attempted to recruit new members that were seeking asylum, the report said.
Along with paying smugglers’ fees for child refugees, ISIS has also been known to recruit members by supplying food to camp residents as well as offering financial incentives. For instance, in the south Libyan town of Qatrun, ISIS reportedly waived roughly $550 in smugglers’ fees to allow refugees to travel north if they joined its group. ISIS members also reportedly offered recruits on the North African Coast nearly $1,000 to join their fight.
“Young asylum seekers are targeted by extremist groups as they are more vulnerable to indoctrination, make able fighters and, in the case of girls, can create a new generation of recruits. This report outlines national and international requirements to reduce the risk of child-trafficking, extremism and modern slavery,” Quilliam senior researcher Nikita Malik said in a statement to the Guardian.
After examining online propaganda and other material produced by ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Al Shabab in Somalia, researchers found the jihadist groups mentioned refugees every single day between June 13, 2016 and Jan. 8. Fifty-three percent of the material featured the Islamic extremist groups encouraging refugees to become fighters and believers of Islam and the groups’ respective missions.
The report did not determine the exact number of children being targeted by Islamic State recruiters. However, the report noted that increasing interest in child recruits by ISIS could be a result of the diminishing number of adult fighters due to ongoing arrests and raids in areas where the group was most prevalent.