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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

Update – 9/27/16: In September 2016, ISIS released an updated version of the app, along with an accompanying workbook. The app and workbook were announced on Twitter and Telegram and were downloadable from file sharing sites.

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 5, 2013

Hezbollah Video Games Targeting Youth Promote War Against Israel

Hezbollah has launched a website for children “ages 11 and above” featuring games that simulate Hezbollah missions against Israel from the terrorist organizations perspective dating back to 1982.hezbollah-video-game-adl

Players can take part in simulated missions from 1982, 1986, 1996, 1999 and 2000. The website says that “The games…are not random. Their goals are to strengthen the culture of resistance.”

Each game is made up of three levels requiring players to shoot with period-appropriate weapons ranging from machine guns to Katyusha rockets to tanks. Players also undertake other actions such as figuring out codes to disable radar and advancing on targets in the face of opposing fire.

The website, launched in November, also features videos produced by Hezbollah’s satel­lite tele­vi­sion sta­tion Al Manar. The videos provide players with Hezbollah’s narratives on the conflicts.

  • In the 1986 game, players advance on a fortified hill to an Israeli outpost using a variety of weapons until they are able to kill all the Israeli soldiers, take control of the outpost and seize ammunition and equipment.
  • In the 1999 game, players must first disable monitoring equipment before they can explode a roadside bomb to destroy a convoy transporting Israeli General Erez Gerstein.
  • The 2000 game involves firing rockets into Israeli territory to kill Israeli soldiers on patrol.

Hezbollah has previously produced video games; in 2003, it began selling a game called “Special Force,” which was followed in 2007 by “Special Force 2.” Both depicted attacks against Israelis. Hezbollah claimed that the original Special Force sold over 10,000 copies internationally, in locations ranging frospecial-force-hezbollahm Lebanon and Syria to Canada, Germany and Australia.

The new games, which are available for free through Hezbollah’s main website, had attracted nearly 350 “likes” on an associated Facebook page, primarily from Lebanese young adults aged 18-34, with many others likely playing directly on the website. The Facebook page was apparently removed on December 3 or 4 but has since been recreated.

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