This is from a series of posts dealing with the plight of children of parents in jihadi organizations and who do not themselves have jihadi values.
Some may be reading this post wondering why I or they should care if children of militants are dehumanized and labeled, when bin Laden’s and others’ actions have killed or orphaned the children of their fellow countrymen. It is understandable to question why we should care when bin Laden and others have not only harmed so many in their attacks, but are also responsible for putting their own children, family and friends in harm’s way.
But just because something is understandable doesn’t mean it is right. Surely we need to show moral fortitude and do what is right regardless of the actions of the others. And the right thing to do is not to label children and in doing so to dehumanize them. It only reinforces the stereotype of hatred these children have been raised on, and makes it all the harder for them to walk away.
Perhaps you are thinking “but so few of them do walk away?” Here I’d like to share some knowledge I have only gained since putting myself out there and engaging in dialogue. Although there seems to be a widespread assumption that children wish to follow in their parents footsteps and that most have done so, this is not the case. I had for a long time been unaware of this and made the above assumption. But I’ve come to learn that the majority of children born into the Arab-Afghan jihadist milieu and that surrounding al Qaeda more generally have, wherever they could, tried to escape that life and chosen not to follow in their parent’s footsteps. This is particularly true for the children of the first, second and third generation mujahideen and bin Laden’s children.