The Islamic State has devised a twisted new way to indoctrinate children: The terrorist group has created an app that teaches Arabic using jihadist songs and pictures of tanks, guns and rockets.
According to Vocativ, the app, called "Huroof" or "Alphabet," was created by the terrorist group's "Library of Zeal" department and promises to "teach the cubs the letters of the alphabet".
Each of a series of flashcards on the app shows an Arabic letter accompanied by an ISIS-related image, such as military equipment, including tanks, ammunition, rifles and rockets. Vocativ refers to the app as a "militarized Sesame Street," as the Arabic letter D, for example, is featured with an image of a tank, or "dababa" in Arabic.
The app also includes games helping children to write Arabic letters and words while a song with jihadist terminology play in the background.
The Independent notes that the app was publicized on messaging channels and file-sharing websites associated with ISIS on Tuesday and appeared to be available only on Android devices.
The militant group regularly refers to its fighters as "lions" and to the children in its territories as "cubs of the caliphate." In the past, ISIS has released a number of disturbing photos showing its fighters training young children and teaching them extremist theology. Among other things, the children are taught to handle and fire live ammunition, how to drive, and even how to behead.
In one particularly disturbing propaganda video released last year, masked boys are shown breaking tiles with their heads, practicing fighting moves and crawling through metal tubes as ISIS fighters fire rounds over their heads. A short time later, militants released another video in which several of its fighters were shown cutting off the heads of eight men who were led to their execution by teenage boys.
"They use children because it is easy to brainwash them," said Observatory head Rami Abdulrahman. "They can build these children into what they want, they stop them from going to school and send them to IS schools instead."
While some of the children are recruited with the consent of their parents as part of a "military training exercise," several more have been kidnapped without their parents knowing. The group also encourages children with birth defects to join their ranks, as some believe that these children are used as human shields, blood donors for wounded fighters, and suicide bombers.
"The extremist group has specifically recruited children through free schooling campaigns that include weapons training and have given them dangerous tasks, including suicide bombing missions," said a 2014 report from Human Rights Watch.
Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism told the Daily Mail in June that training young jihadists is useful to senior ISIS fighters when they are trying to consolidate territory which is constantly under attack.
"Indoctrinating kids with ISIS fanaticism is not only the easiest population to indoctrinate but also produces new generations of ISIS believers and ultimately at some point fighters. This is the way you build a Caliphate," he told the news source.
"Their goal is to rebuild the Islamic societies they have conquered into a global comprehensive Islamist system that... takes over all aspects of society from garbage collection to teaching at the Madrassats [religious schools]."