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In recent years, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) has attracted considerable attention for its educational system, given the shocking nature of its curriculum and the role that it is believed to play in the indoctrination and recruitment of children. In graphic propaganda videos, ISIS has featured ashbal, or “lion cubs”—the term that the group uses to describe its underage fighters, most of whom appear to be well under ten years old—participating in violent training exercises and even executing prisoners. Its “textbooks," which the group distributes as PDFs through its social media channels, cover a wide range of subjects, such as geography, history, computer programming, chemistry, mathematics, and English, but use crude exercises to desensitize children to violence: arithmetic problems that involve counting bullets or the number of ISIS soldiers and “nonbelievers” on a battlefield, for example.
Much of what is known about ISIS’ educational system, however,