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Children Affected by the Foreign Fighter Phenomenon: Guidelines on the Prevention of Radicalization on Social Media and the Internet in this Digital Era

Cecilia Polizzi

/ Policy

The 2023 Children Affected by the Foreign Fighter Phenomenon (CAFF) Series aims to provide insight and advice for states, professionals, practitioners, and other relevant stakeholders. The CAFF expounds the trajectory of child involvement with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in relation to the foreign fighter phenomenon and the life-cycle of the present scenario, offering solutions across sectors and disciplines and tackling the full range of issues it exerts. It encompasses key themes such as online safety, the Al-Hol crisis, repatriation, reintegration and rehabilitation, and offers four sets of Guidelines.

This line of effort by the CRTG Working Group proposes comprehensive, integrated and multi-faceted approaches to progress towards sustainable and meaningful solutions to the prolonged child protection and security crisis stemming from the issue of foreign fighters. Central to CAFF is ensuring that human rights, the rule of law, and children’s rights remain at the forefront throughout the development and implementation of interventions and programs.

These syntheses of accumulated experience and expertise on selected themes provide comprehensive, detailed, and nuanced overviews of their subject matter. The present Guidelines initiate this line of thematic work by the CRTG Working Group in a very important area - the online ecosystem of terrorism and violent extremism. It is the result of CRTG Working Group specialized knowledge and draws from a CRTG Working Group-led technical session with Ms. Hallie Stern, Founder and Director of Mad Mirror Media, and Mr. Ardian Shajkovci, Co-Founder and Director of the American Counterterrorism Targeting and Resilience Institute, concerned with preventing and mitigating harms against children in the digital sphere. Thus, acknowledging how ISIL and other terrorist and violent extremist actors exploit technological innovation, social media, and the Internet to entice, mobilize, recruit and radicalize children and seeking to enable appropriate responses, guaranteeing online safety and a secure online experience for all children and young people.

The CRTG Working Group ́s technical session sought to expose the complexities of the online ecosystem of terrorism and violent extremism as related to the targeting of children and respond to the following questions:

1. What are the primary ways in which terrorist groups use the Internet to recruit and radicalize children, and what strategies can be employed to prevent such activity? What is the role of governments, tech companies, civil society, and non-professionals?

2. Is child protection truly possible in the digital environment? If yes, through which strategies and in which manner should prevention and mitigation efforts occur?

The Recommendations are categorized into three distinct sections, specifically designed to cater to the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders: 1. Tech Guidelines; 2. Policy Guidelines; and 3. Non-Professional Guidelines.

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Shaping Futures

@2023 CRTG Working Group

New York City

Working Group on Children Recruited 

by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups Corp. 

EIN 30:1232924

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