The jihadists are targeting minors carefully. This is why it’s so important to monitor what children and teens are doing. We shouldn’t just let our kids be taken so easily from us.
A 15-year-old schoolboy is the latest French teenager to face terrorism charges amid mounting fears that jihadists are systematically targeting minors through encrypted online messaging services.
The boy was arrested at his family home in the Paris suburb of Domont after investigators found encrypted messages he exchanged with Rachid Kassim, a notorious French recruiter for the Islamic State group, via the Telegram service.
Telegram is a smartphone app favoured by extremists because of its impenetrable encryption. The French intelligence chief, Patrick Calvar, has described it as “the main network used by terrorists”.
France and Germany want the EU to force messaging services such as Telegram and WhatsApp to provide unencrypted records for national security services.
However, the Russian internet guru, Pavel Durov, who founded Telegram with his brother Nikolai, has insisted that not even he has the power to intercept users’ private chats.
After the massacre of 130 people in Paris last November, Telegram blocked dozens of its public ‘channels’, or message groups, because they were being used to spread jihadist propaganda.
However, to gain access to private messages, intelligence agents have to go through the time-consuming process of posing as extremists.
The charging of the 15-year-old is likely to intensify pressure for stricter regulation of messaging services after a string of atrocities carried out by attackers believed to have been recruited online.
“There was a suspicion that the schoolboy was about to attempt an attack,” a source close to the investigation said. “Under questioning, he claimed to have abandoned his plan.”
Nevertheless, he was placed under formal investigation — a stage in the French legal process equivalent to being charged — on Friday night, two days after being taken into custody….