Many Western nations are expressing concern that some of their citizens are taking their children to areas under the power of the so-called Islamic State (IS)


Furthermore, many of these IS radicalized Westerners are having more children once abroad, in places like Syria. Consequently, this leaves grandparents and other family members frantically concerned about their grandchildren’s welfare and begging for government intervention.


A statistical analysis from the website Statista reveals that there are a large number of foreign children currently abroad and under the influence of IS. According to the data, French and Russian nationals are most likely to bring their children into the IS war zones. Shockingly, nearly 1000 children are from these two countries.

Europe and Eastern Europe also breed a lot of Jihadist parents who travel to places like Syria to join the terrorist organization. And indeed, places like the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia are not immune either.


The Soufan Center’s report Beyond the Caliphate: Foreign Fighters and the Threat of Returnees revealed these shocking statistics

This extensive report put together by Richard Barrett shows the extent to which this ideology influences westerners. Furthermore, it reveals how these westerners are even willing to risk the lives of their innocent and vulnerable children. Sadly, these children are victims of the blindness of their parent’s  ideological zeal.



Infographic: The Children of the Islamic State | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista


One of the most significant concerns these Western nations face is returnees. With the caliphate gradually crumbling, many foreign nationals want to return to their countries of origin. From the perspective of these Western IS recruits, the consideration of returning home is wrought with problems. Indeed, many nation’s anti-terrorism laws demand that authorities arrest anyone returning home from spending time as an active member of IS.

However, considering that many of these Western IS recruits took young children or went on to have babies in these war zones, western nations are caught up in a moral dilemma. These innocent children did not choose the lives that their parents thrust upon them. However, what is the extent of the parent’s bloodthirsty brainwashing? Could this potentially mean that these children might become a terrorist threat to their country of origin? Many Western nations are trying to seek a solution for them.



The mothers of these children may also have run away to join IS while they were still legally children

An example being three British schoolgirls, aged between 15 and 16, who became radicalized in 2015, disappeared from their families, only showing up later in Syria. These girls married jihadists and started families with them.

The radicalization of children from birth is a core tenet of the IS ideology. In 2015, the media obtained a copy of an IS handbook called Sister’s Role in Jihad. This booklet advises women that part of their role in jihad is specifically to raise future fighters. Mothers are encouraged to introduce toy guns and weapons to babies and make them familiar with who is okay to kill, and who is not. Bedtime stories should be about martyrs and militants.

Evidence of radicalization in children within IS is widespread. IS Jihadists have released many images and videos revealling their use of children to execute prisoners. Horrifyingly many of these children come from Western countries. IS released a propaganda video only a few months ago containing a small boy claiming to have an American father. The 10-year-old child speaks in clear English with an American accent. He threatens Westerners that IS will spread their “holy” war to them.




One of the most shocking images of IS radicalisation of a western child was that of an Australian boy holding up a severed head

His Australian parents had moved to Syria in 2013 with him and his five siblings. When the media released the shocking image to the public, the children’s Australian grandmother began to beg the government to organize for the return of the children.

Consequently, the Australian government and public entered into a fierce debate. What should the nation should do with the children? Nevertheless, at this point, they appear to be overseas still. Such discussions are certainly taking place within all the Western nations contemplating the return of potentially highly radicalized children. Most opinions, however, center around compassion and rehabilitation.

Since the fall of Raqqa, many of the Western children of IS are being held in a refugee camp approximately 65km north of the city. Widows and orphans of fallen IS fighters are isolated within the camps. Locals treat them with contempt. Many of the children are Western in origin. Only a few Russian and Chechen delegations have managed to take some of them home.



This is to the relief of just a few of the grandparents who have campaigned for the return of their grandchildren

One Chechen grandmother exclaimed “Yes, our children are to blame, we are not hiding this. Yes, they are bastards, who did not listen to their parents. Now, over there are terrorists The danger is that our grandkids will become terrorists too.


References: The Guardian, CBC News, Daily Mail,, Reuters
Photo credit:
quapan via / CC BY