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Stop the children from idolising terrorists

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Idolising terrorists is somewhat new to the Philippines, at least by kids. Some of the children displaced by the fighting in Marawi see Islamic State (IS) fighters as heroes, according to a story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

That is what the Philippine Sports Commission discovered after hosting the Games for Peace last month in Iligan City, where many displaced Marawi residents fled after fighting between government forces and IS-inspired terrorists erupted in May.
This issue will not only be limited to Marawi children, whose minds are being taken captive by the IS-linked Maute group in the form of propaganda. This exploitation is somewhat an effective strategy by the terrorists using a “Robin Hood” act of generosity to impress those in need that they are the protagonists and the government is ineffective. Food and money can blind people without asking what lies behind the gifts.
Moreover, this is not just about the influencers (Maute), but follows a long history of hatred. Children’s attitudes can be traced to centuries-old hatred and anger toward colonisers (both Spanish and American), as well as the military and government in general. It may spiral further from that area to another level, where actual recruitment may take place. Aside from this, millennials, as frequent users of social media, are highly susceptible to the online psy-op of the terrorists.
It may seem to be nothing, but we believe it is part of their protracted warfare strategy. Aside from the actual combat intrusions to lengthen the war by implanting seeds of kindness, this will be passed through generations until such time as their plan of massive recruitment will be realised. After this Marawi siege it will be silent for a while, but because these children’s emotions have been tapped, we will never know exactly when the next stage of attack will come. And that is more dangerous.
While it may seem a psychological thing for others, I believe it is also a security concern, since those children are becoming the new targets of their propaganda by a fake impression of kindness. Let us not allow them to seize the innocent minds of young victims. Let us not allow those terrorists to sway the children and be part of Maute or IS. They have the potential to be leaders of this nation, not killers of the same kind.
Jumel Gabilan Estranero
(From the Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN)

Published : August 09, 2017