Parents warned on terrorist recruitment thru social media

Published March 16, 2019, 12:12 AM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Philippine News Agency
 — A young professor of psychology and socio-anthropology at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on Thursday advised parents to monitor their children’s activities on social media, as this is being used by terrorist groups as a platform for recruitment.

Capt. Sherhannah Paiso, military science professor and chief of education branch of the PMA, said parents “need to know who they (children) are talking to”.

Paiso was addressing participants in the two-day Youth General Assembly and Interfaith Dialogue on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism held at the Waterfront Hotel, this city.

According to her, parents should also know the “signs”, which would indicate that their children have been exposed to radicalization through the kind of groups they are associated with, as well their children’s demeanor over social media.

“If you are in a group the promotes violence, there is a tendency for you also to become a violent individual. Remember, prevention is always better than cure,” Paiso said.

When a child changes his Facebook account by putting the mask of the ISIS or the ISIS flag, it shows that such child is being misled towards radicalization, she noted.

The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, headed by Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan, partnered with the United Nations Development Programme and the People of Japan in organizing the assembly, with the aim of educating Muslim youth against the “evils of violent extremism”.

Paiso, a Tausug who grew up in Metro Manila, described the youth as a vulnerable sector of the populace because of their “weaknesses”, being of tender age.

“You are vulnerable to radicalization because they target your weakness,” Paiso told the assembly of more that 500 Muslim youths in Central Visayas. They are “called youth for that reason. They do not have yet critical thinking skills”.

Paiso, who was a surprise lecturer on radicalization and Islamophobia in the said assembly, warned that children with family issues may face the risk of joining extremist groups that promote violence in the society.

She also said that personal issues of the youth, such as problems in a relationship, environmental and peer pressures in school may also increase their vulnerability to recruitment.

She recalled an instance when a mother prevented her daughter from joining the Maute group at the height of the Marawi siege in 2017, because her father was a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front.

The professor from the PMA also said Islamophobia and stereotyping of Muslims as “terrorists and bombers” should be avoided in all levels of the society to avoid young Muslims from joining organizations that usher violent activities.