These charges are related to documents that were found last year in a counter-terrorism investigation: Operation Appleby. New South Wales, a state in southern Australia had found out that Islamic Extremists were planning random killings in Australia, and that a senior Islamic Militant had called for demonstration killings, including public beheadings. The radicalized group, that these five men were a part of, was planning attacks on government buildings in Sydney. The two arrested today were also connected to a terror-linked shooting of a Sydney police worker last October.
One thing that really standouts out to me is that a 15 year old was part of these terror plots. The 15-year old who had been arrested today because he was a part of the conspiracy, so he helped prepare and plan the material being presented by his seniors in the radicalized group. It is unclear what his role would have been if an attack had really carried out. Today was the third time this boy's house had been raided. He was home alone in the first raid, where documents, laptops and his Playstation were seized. In the second raid, the boy was arrested and he was subsequently charged with possessing an unauthorised firearm. Aware of some radicalization the government kept in constant contact with the school and even tried to offer free gym memberships as a way to spy on the kid. The police have been in constant contact with the boy's school to prevent radicalization before it gets to the point where people decide to act it out in violence.
Recently it seems like there has been a lot more kids being radicalized. There has been a case two months ago where another fifteen-year old boy, Fahrad Jahar, shot and killed a police officer in the front of a police station. There was a case where a 14 year old boy from Blackburn, England was arrested in early April for communicating a plot to men in Australia that would include using knifes and swords to slash police officers. Last year two girls, a seventeen and a fifteen year old , both packed their bags and headed out to Syria. One of the girls was beaten to death while trying to escape and the other died in fighting. The number of arrests of a under-18 terror offenses almost doubled from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015 in England from 8 to 15.
So what is so appealing about risky, violent extremist groups to teens? This is not a concept that we have not seen before. Gangs, cults, and Hitler's youth movement are only a few examples's of times kids have actively participated in extremist groups.
During the teen years kids try to find their sense of identity; they look for religon, poltics. occupation, and a cultural identity. Kids are often in a warm and nurturing enviroment that allows them to safetly find their identity. However in some cases, joining a certain group can give a sense of belonging and meaning at a time they need it the most. Kids adopt these ideals no matter how ridculous.
By March of this year, ISIS had recruited about 280 more children than men, and that is just one extremist group. Maybe one way of stopping extremist groups is by giving our children a nuturing and safe enviroment to explore to ensure that they do not feel connected to the wrong people.
1. Do you feel like countries are doing enough to protect their children from extremist groups?
2. What do you think nations can do to help defeat extremist groups?