Two videos posted online may offer new evidence that terror groups are imparting the fundamentals of their tradecraft at an ever earlier age.
In the first video, some 20 children, who in other parts of the world might be getting their first taste of the alphabet and basic mathematics in kindergarten, are instead lining up in a makeshift outdoor firing range and shooting pistols and AK-47s.
The shooters are so light they can be seen being physically thrown back – in unison - from the weapons’ recoil.
According to Ynet, an al-Qaeda affiliated group posted the video online titled “Little Commandos.”
Ynet offers this information on the group behind the video:
The video shows the children, some of them apparently only five-years-old, firing various weapons, including pistols, AK-47s and machine-guns, dressed in traditional Muslim attire.
The Turkistan Islamic Movement operates several training camps in Pakistan and has been responsible for a series of bombing in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Since 1997, the group reportedly killed more than 150 people and injured more than 400 in terror attacks for the cause of liberating East Turkistan, an area under Chinese control officially known as Xinjiang.
The group's activities are mostly directed against Chinese nationals.
This as a reporter with The Telegraph visited a Hamas-run school in Gaza where boys are being taught “how to fire Kalashnikovs, throw grenades and plant improvised explosive devices.”
Reporter Phoebe Greenwood notes that while the militaristic education youth program, or “Futuwwa,” was introduced last fall for 15- to 17-year-olds throughout Gaza, Hamas has also banned sports from school curricula claiming a lack of time.
The Telegraph reports:
Izzadine Mohamed, 17, was among the students who attended the weekly school classes, which covered first aid, basic fire fighting skills and how to fire a Kalashnikov rifle. He was also one of 5,000 boys across Gaza who also signed up for an optional two-week camp held at a Hamas military base.
"I was excited to learn the right way to use a weapon," said Mr Mohamed. "It's important because of the occupation. I feel stronger and more confident with the knowledge, which I could use against the occupier."
At the two-week camp, the boys spent their time dressed in a military-style uniform of black t-shirts and black jeans, and were trained by officers with the Hamas National Guard and militants with Hamas' armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades.
Mr Mohamed said that as well karate and other street-fighting techniques, they were taught how to throw hand grenades, and how also how to protect themselves if one exploded nearby – "drop flat on the ground next to the grenade, it explodes outwards".
Hamas has denied that live weaponry is used in the course or that militants are involved in the training.
Mohamed Syam, head of the education ministry in charge of the Futuwwa program, is trying to publicly play down the terrorist-training aspect of the program: "We are not conducting military training in our schools, we are providing information," he told the Telegraph. "The youth can join military wings of factions, they don't need military training at school."
But those claims were belied by a video showing a Hamas demonstration apparently in a schoolyard in which a shoulder-held launcher is used to blow up a mock Israeli military post.
In the dramatic, staged presentation, one militant posing as an Israeli soldier pretends to be killed by the Hamas gunmen, while another is taken hostage and whisked away in a black car on which a Palestinian flag waves.
Then, the faux Israeli army outpost is blown to bits by a Palestinian fighter holding an RPG, to the excited cries of “Allahu Akbar” by the emcee.
Considering the presence of children and the use of live fire during part of the demonstration, safety precautions are not readily apparent to the lay viewer.
Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch, a Jerusalem-based research institute that monitors incitement in the official Palestinian Authority media, tells TheBlaze, “The key to peace is peace education and tragically, when observing Hamas, Hezbollah, and even the so-called moderate Palestinian Authority’s (PA’s) education, it is clear that none of them want a next generation that will live at peace with Israel.”
“A Palestinian Authority TV children’s program recently taught that Jews are 'enemies of Allah' who 'murdered children,' and 'raped the women in the city squares.' By educating their children that Jews are the enemy of their God, the PA is assuring itself of a next generation who will 'defend' their God by fighting and killing Israeli men, woman and children, in His name,” Marcus adds.
The Associated Press wrote about the new militaristic program in Hamas schools in January. It reported that during the weekly, one-hour class, besides learning to climb down walls on ropes and how to crawl under barbed wire, older students are taught how to use light weapons, while the younger students train with wooden rifles.
Fifteen-year-old Radwan Wasfi told the AP: “My officer taught me the values of courage, sacrifice and love of jihad, as well as some battle tactics.”
A Hamas official tells the Telegraph that the program may be introduced to girls' schools next year.