Teaching Children Jihad in Dagestan
“The Child is father of the Man,” wrote William Wordsworth, and nowhere is this truer today than in the Russian Muslim Republic of Dagestan, from which hailed the Boston Marathan jihad mass murderers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In a telling indication of what kind of environment the Tsarnaevs grew up in, children in Dagestan have found a new source of fun far more engrossing than Assassins Creed or World of Warcraft: in imitation of their parents, they’re filming their own jihad videos.
The children of Dagestan are not so concerned, at least so far, about beheading Western journalists or demanding the end to this or that “occupation” or else many more will die; as is understandable given their age and experience, their jihads are somewhat smaller in scope. Brandishing weapons (which Russia Today assures us are toys), they’re filming themselves demanding good grades in school or money from their parents or others.
They are, of course, imitating what they have seen their parents and other adults around them do: Dagestan is a hotbed of jihad activity, and jihadists there are no different from jihadists the world over: they love filming themselves waving guns around, issuing threats against the infidels, spouting Qur’an verses to buttress their argument, and posting them on the Internet for the world to see.
The children of Dagestan have no doubt grown up seeing this – watching the adults around them film such videos, and gather around to watch them, and spend evenings planning them. So now they’re making their own and posting them to YouTube by themselves. They’ve been raised in a culture of violence. It is what they know.
One of these videos features a young man who looks as if he is about twelve years old. He tells his teacher that he wants all A’s and only A’s entered into his school record. Then he adds, with solemn face and gun prominently in view: “If you don’t do that, I’ll first kill Khalimat and Nurmagomed and then come at you. Insha’Allah [Allah willing].”
Another video features a boy recalling that another boy named Mohammed once beat him up. He demands that Mohammed give him a motorcycle and two million rubles ($60,000) within five days, or else he will kill Mohammed’s son “and a couple of other people.”
Relax. According to Russia Today, police say that these videos “are meant to be a joke and pose no real danger.” That’s reassuring, but it’s unclear exactly how Dagestani police arrived at this conclusion. Given the nationwide anxiety and horror over school shootings in the U.S., it’s likely that if American schoolchildren were making videos featuring guns and threats, those videos would be the object of national handwringing on the nightly news and in the New York Times. However, in light of the fact that jihad violence is a feature of daily life in Dagestan and is preached in many mosques there as a virtue pleasing to Allah, it is perhaps understandable that the Dagestani authorities would be more sanguine about these videos than Americans might be.
Still, some people are concerned. “Many,” RT tells us, “are wondering why young children – who are known to copy the actions of adults – are taking part in such violent role play.” The question answers itself: they are copying the actions of the adults around them. If they had seen their parents making a killing on Wall Street or at the roulette table, they wouldn’t be filming videos of themselves fantasizing about and threatening to carry out a grislier type of killings.
The families of jihadis have received insufficient attention. Thousands of Islamic jihad terrorists have been captured and imprisoned or killed all over the world; authorities generally assume that once someone like Osama bin Laden or Anwar al-Awlaki is killed, his threat is neutralized. However, such men did not live in a vacuum. They usually had children; Islam does not value monasticism or celibacy. Those who had children taught them their values. And those children live on long after their fathers have been captured or killed; in some cases they will continue their jihad work.
This is no surprise. It is what they know. It is how they have been raised. The children of Dagestan are learning that in order to get what one wants, one need not seek gainful employment and try to earn money to provide for one’s family; rather, one should wave a gun around in front of a video camera and make death threats. What will they do when they grow up? The same thing. These videos are just their apprenticeship.