The media group al-Urwa al-Wuthaqa, an associate of the Nigerian militants Boko Haram, recently released two images showing a group of children at a military training camp. In the images, young boys and girls are holding AK-47 assault rifles, with some wielding a cutout version of the weapon, while completing a military training session. One of the pictures shows them pointing the guns while engaged in what appears to be a shooting drill.
In a Newsweek report, Max Abrahms, a political science professor from Northwestern University and Council of Foreign Relations member, indicated that terrorist groups like Boko Haram recruit and train child soldiers to quickly increase their size.
"Terrorist organizations have power in numbers – the more members in the group, the greater its capability. There is a correlation between the membership size of a terrorist group and its ability to inflict bloodshed. Terrorist groups will often try to amass the most members as possible even if they're young boys or girls," he said.
Abrahms also noted that groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram indoctrinate children at an early age to secure their respective groups' futures. In the years to come, it is likely that the conscripted recruits will share the same worldview as their captors having spent many years together.
Andrew Noakes, a coordinator with the Nigeria Security Network, explained that the group is having difficulty recruiting members to its cause following its series of brutal attacks throughout the country. "To fill the gap they've turned to recruiting children and recruiting in neighboring countries. Boko Haram often uses its child soldiers and other forced recruits to form the first wave of an attack, before sending in the more experienced fighters to finish off operations," he added.
To date, many regions in Nigeria are still in a state of emergency following attacks by Boko Haram.