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May 13, 2016

New ISIS App One of Many Efforts to Indoctrinate Children

A screenshot from the ISIS app with the letter Ba for Bunduqiya, meaning rifle

A screenshot from the ISIS app with the letter Ba for Bunduqiya, meaning rifle

ISIS has released a mobile app designed to teach young children the Arabic alphabet while simultaneously indoctrinating them with militant ideology. The app was shared via ISIS channels on the chat application Telegram and made available on file sharing sites, many of which have since deleted the link.

Featuring brightly colored, cheerful graphics, the appoffers educational content for learning letters, such as songs designed for enabling memorization. However, the songs are filled with extremist rhetoric, and words that begin with the letters shown include gun, tank, rocket and bullet.

This is not the first instance of ISIS propaganda featuring or targeting children. The group has released multiple videos containing acts of violence committed or incited by children as young as toddlers, as well as videos featuring children engaged in combat training. Many of the group’s more positively themed videos, designed to suggest that ISIS is creating a utopian community, have shown children playing, singing, and enjoying ice cream and other treats. ISIS propaganda videos are not only exported to extremists outside ISIS territory but also are regularly broadcast inside areas the group controls. Reports have indicated that children within ISIS territory are regularly forced to watch the violent propaganda videos.

A young child in an ISIS propaganda video

A young child in an ISIS propaganda video

But ISIS is not the only terrorist organization to directly target children. ADL has documented several militant online video games created for children by Hezbollah, which Hezbollah claimed were designed “to strengthen the cul­ture of resistance” – meaning, to indoctrinate children.

ISIS, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations have also created other mobile apps aimed at adult audiences, with the goal of spreading their propaganda on as many platforms as

Children eating ice cream in an ISIS propaganda video

Children eating ice cream in an ISIS propaganda video

possible. ADL has just exposed a new app created to broadcast Hezbollah’s al-Manar news outlet, which was made available for download on iTunes.ISIS has also created several iterations of news apps. Currently active channels are featured on the mobile chat app Telegram and contain backup mechanisms so that if the initial channel is shut down, users are automatically added to a newly created channel and can continue receiving ISIS news and propaganda directly onto their mobile phones.

Children in military training in an ISIS propaganda video

Children in military training in an ISIS propaganda video

Furthermore, ISIS’s sleek and sophisticated propaganda is regularly aimed at audiences not considered traditional demographics for extremist recruitment. For example, the group also has a propaganda wing that specifically targets women and has put significant efforts into recruiting female members.

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December 20, 2013

Pennsylvania White Supremacist Loses Fifth Child To State

Just days after the November 11 birth, Pennsylvania authorities took into custody the newborn child of white supremacist Isidore Heath Campbell and his fiancée Bethanie Rose Zito, both of Bangor. The infant, named Eva Braun after the mistress and eventual wife of Adolf Hitler, is the most recent child of Campbell’s to be taken away by family service agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.heath-campbell-NSM-rally

Campbell, a heavily tattooed neo-Nazi with a penchant for wearing Nazi-themed clothing, gained international notoriety in 2008 after a New Jersey grocery store refused to personalize a birthday cake for one of his children, named Adolf Hitler, from his earlier marriage with Deborah Lynn Campbell. 

Heath and Deborah had named their other children together JoyceLynn Aryan Nations (to honor a notorious neo-Nazi group), Honzlynn Hinler Jeannie (in an attempt to honor infamous Nazi Heinrich Himmler) and Hons Heinrich (also a nod to Himmler). 

In 2009, New Jersey authorities took custody of those children as a result of alleged evidence of abuse or neglect due to prior domestic violence as well as a determination that the parents did not have the psychological capacity to properly care for the children.  Heath Campbell has insisted that the children were taken by the state only because he gave his children white supremacist names. 

Campbell, the father of eight children from four different mothers, does not have custody of any of his children.  In June 2013 a New Jersey judge denied Campbell’s attempt to regain custody of the children he had with Deborah.  Campbell and Zito appeared at the hearing wearing Nazi clothing and regalia.

Campbell has had the support of some of the local white supremacists in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, who have been posting updates from him on his family situation in which he labeled the authorities’ actions a “kidnapping” and claimed that “they are taking only white children [and are] now trying to classify us as slaves.”  Campbell has urged people to fly Nazi flags and burn “Jewish flags” in support of him.

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January 11, 2013

The Trouble With Make Me a “Stereotype”

Applications for smartphones and tablets have become an emerging segment of the online and entertainment industry.  As with videos, blogs and social networking platforms which came before, Apps are now being created that some consider funny, but which  actually cross the line from humorous to offensive.  Recent examples include two free apps on Google called “Make Me Asian” and “Make Me Indian,” that allow users to edit photos in ways which play on racist stereotypes. Users of the app can darken skin color, change eye shape to an “Asian” slant or add ethnic accessories like an American Indian headdress.

Young children often make fun of Asian American classmates by pulling their eyes to make a slant or play “Indian,” complete with headdress or a “war-cry.” As adults, this is the very kind of thinking we try to challenge in our children.  We want them to understand and respect different cultures, not belittle or ridicule them or make assumptions about all members of a group based on common stereotypes.  We teach them that everyone has different physical features, qualities and characteristics that have nothing to do with the groups to which they belong.

Stereotypes make oversimplified generalizations about people or groups without regard for individual differences. The problem is that these generalizations soon become beliefs about groups which form  the building blocks for prejudice and discrimination, features of life that have serious implications for us all.  Apps like “Make Me Asian” and “Make Me Indian” and a score of others built on this concept play on pernicious stereotypes that marginalize individuals and groups. Though the global community is racially and ethnically diverse, these kinds of apps promote the kind of thinking that being white is the norm and everything else is defined as “other.”

As a society, we spend much of our time interacting through our mobile devices, but when we choose so-called entertainment that reinforces these kinds of stereotypes, we have to consider whether we might be contributing to the perpetuation of the incivility that limits everyone’s opportunities.

The Anti-Defamation League strives to remain vigilant of emerging issues in our digital world and communicates regularly with many of the major companies on issues that are raised by the community.

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