You can never be too young to train as a terrorist.
So thinks Islamic State, which launched a brand new app on Telegram and other file-sharing sites aimed directly at children.
The app, which was released through Islamic State Telegram channels and a variety of file sharing websites, appears to help children write Arabic letters, learn the alphabet, and kids’ songs. However, many of the words taught through the app have a jihadist angle, such as “tank,” “gun,” and “rocket.”
Children can also browse through images of these words. Photos of the app show cartoon depictions of guns and tanks. Cannons, bullets and swords are also featured in the app, which is downloadable on Android devices.
This is not the first app launched by the Islamic State, though it’s the first to be aimed at children. In December 2015, the terrorist group made headlines for launching an app designed to spread propaganda. It was initially discovered by Ghost Security Group, an organization that specifically works to disrupt the group’s operations on the Internet. The app showed videos of beheadings and messages about terrorist attacks around the world.
Telegram, the encrypted messaging app, has been used by the Islamic State in the past to communicate its messages across the Web. However, the service has been working hard to sever the group’s ties via Telegram. In November 2015, Telegram announced that it had blocked 78 ISIS-related channels across 12 languages.
Despite efforts to slow the progress of terrorist groups on the Internet, they continue to work around shutdown attempts. In April, the Taliban developed an Android app to connect with a wide audience. Titled Alemarah, the app provided access to Taliban videos that spread the group’s message. The SITE Intel Group discovered its launch and prompted its removal from the Google Play Store shortly after its debut.
Nothing quite says we’re in a multi-generational war with Islamic extremism like these sorts of programs aimed at children. Granted, not too many western kids will fall for this propaganda (God help us if ISIS or other terror groups figure out that making things blow up is what kids really love). But there will still be a few alienated, lonely children who will be seduced by the siren call and come under radical Islam’s spell.
Meanwhile, we should redouble our efforts to deny the internet to our enemies. It seems an impossible task, but we can be doing a lot better than we are. While our counterterrorism agencies are monitoring the internet with some success, the companies that own the sites should be more vigilant and react more quickly when the terrorists emerge.