How radicalizing agents mobilize minors to jihadism: a qualitative study in Spain
In the context of the global jihadist mobilization triggered by the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2012 and the subsequent emergence of Islamic State, child and adolescent recruitment has reached unprecedented levels in Spain. Between 2013 and 2019, 44 jihadists were arrested in this country due to their involvement in the indoctrination and recruitment of individuals below 18 years of age. How did they carry out the mobilization of minors in support of global jihadism? Adopting a qualitative approach guided by grounded theory methods to address the question, this article relies on evidence collected mostly from primary sources (police reports, criminal proceedings, court hearings, as well as semi-structured interviews with police experts and front-line practitioners). The results indicate that their radicalization strategies varied as a function of the existence of previous personal ties between the recruiter and the minor; the age of the minor; and the environment in which the process unfolded. The interaction of these three factors generates the outline of three different formulas used in Spain for jihadist indoctrination of underage youth: one unfolds within the family milieu, another within the immediate social environment and a third via cyberspace.
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