Child is Father of the Man? Retribution or Reintegration of ISIS Youth in Mosul, Iraq

A seminar with Dr. Vera Mironova

What should be done with insurgent youth, from adolescent fighters to very young children? Using original survey data, we examine public opinion regarding adolescent/child soldiers and young children in the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul Iraq. Focusing retrospectively, we inquire about retributive punishment for minors who fought and worked for the Islamic State relative to adults. We find that punishment preferences toward minors are conditional on their participation in violence, beliefs about the determinants of adulthood and the role of agency versus coercion in the recruitment process. Thinking prospectively, we find the public divided between fear about the dangers posed by radicalized children of insurgency and hope for rehabilitation and reintegration. Our results raise concerns about detrimental effects of retributive justice and social stigma on the well-being of insurgent youth and children both now and later into adulthood.

Dr. Vera Mironova is a Research Fellow at Harvard University, author, journalist and frontline scholar, with extensive experience in studying conflict first hand, embedded in the field. Her award-winning first book From Freedom Fighters to Jihadists: Human Resources of Non-State Armed Groups (Oxford University Press) was published in 2019.

Published Feb. 22, 2021 3:58 PM - Last modified Aug. 2, 2022 2:03 PM