International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

What We Can Learn About ISIS From The LRA

Although ISIS has been seemingly successful in recruiting willing and enthusiastic members to fight for their cause. However, what is addressed far less are members who have been coerced into militant action on behalf of ISIS. Is it possible to turn the unwilling into willing members?  Eleanor Beaver  uses Joseph Kony and the LRA as an example, focusing on their kidnapping and coercion of children into extremists.

Kony created a “religious universe”. His political movement required abductees to fill the ranks and to carry out his heinous demands. Survival of the abductees was nearly impossible unless they were to immerse themselves in Kony’s ideology. A study showed that 44 percent of former abductees remember expressing loyalty to Kony at the time.

ISIS has had to take similar measures. They have no allies in the muslim world, and their actions are  hard to rationalize using even jihadist methodology. Like the LRA, ISIS “shatters taboos”, using rebellion against cultural fears and norms as a way to prove their righteousness and authority.

Once inside, abductees of both the LRA and ISIS were/are taught and held to the strict laws of the organization. Those who disobeyed orders or broke laws were condemned with harsh punishment.

For captives, the rules become “lifelines”. They offer order in chaos, and obeying them offers safety from violence. By using apocalyptic rhetoric, organizations like the LRA and ISIS can coerce their captives to be militants, claiming that the only way to be safe and “pure” is to follow their ideology.


ISIL Child Soldiers


LRA Child Soldiers


One response to “What We Can Learn About ISIS From The LRA

  1. kmira471 October 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    The use of child soldiers by ISIS through coercion is very concerning because in class we have discussed the fate of various child soldiers, including those involved in the LRA through Kony. There are controversies over whether or not child soldiers should be prosecuted as perpetrators of atrocity crimes or protected as victims of war crimes. We have learned that often, both instances occur; some child soldiers are considered victims and receive reparations while others are indicted by the ICC, like Dominic Ongewn. Ongwen was kidnapped into the LRA at 10 years old as a child soldier, but due to the need to immerse himself in the LRA in order to survive, Ongwen rose in ranks rapidly to a top leader.

    The lines can get blurred in this situations between victim and perpetrator because these child soldiers did not ask to join these violent militias. However, they are still responsible for committing atrocious crimes including murder and destruction. Leaders of these rebel groups like the LRA and ISIS use the malleability of the minds of these young children to their advantage by forcing them adopt their extremist mindset. So my question is, when do the crimes of child soldiers cross the line between victim and perpetrator? Children are essentially helpless when forced into these types of situations and do not have the option to back out if things begin to get too intense. So are they really responsible for the commission of the crimes that they commit under the orders of extremist leaders?

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