A Canadian Muslim told the U.N. Security Council that he’s still haunted by the video of a 3-year-old boy cutting off his teddy bear’s head with a large knife given to him by his parents.
Mubin Shaikh said Muslim terrorist groups deliberately recruit and use children to carry out attacks, build their ranks, and promote their beliefs and agenda.
Shaikh is a Canadian Muslim who was radicalized in his teens, traveled in Taliban-controlled areas and said he turned away from that “poisonous” way of thinking after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
He is now an expert on countering violent extremism and said he uses that video — in which the knife is as long as the boy’s arm — to train police and intelligence services.
“What will become of this boy when he’s 10? 15? Will he even live to 20?,” Shaikh asked at a council meeting on children and armed conflict. “This is a real-life story of where we are today and what we will deal with tomorrow.”
“Children are easier to forcibly or coercively recruit and indoctrinate” than adults, he said. And “security forces often view children with less suspicion, making them useful as spies, couriers and suicide bombers.”
Shaikh said the use of children by such groups is “a growing threat.”
He urged coordinated action by governments, the United Nations and civil society to prevent recruitment and to demobilize and rehabilitate radicalized children.