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Small children re-enact the beheadings

Videos have appeared on websites featuring children re-enacting the beheadings that have taken place in Iraq over the past few months.  It's a grim update on "cops and robbers." MSNBC terrorist expert Steve Emerson discusses on "Countdown."

A video, posted on a militant Web site, shows a group of young children performing a mock beheading.  The children’s imitation was so detailed— a young boy was seen standing in the middle, appearing to deliver a lecture and shaking his finger at the camera while his pretend henchmen stand by with wooden rifles.  His young captive kneels in the same manner as the real-life hostages we have seen over the past few weeks, and just like the real videos, this one has a predictable ending.  The boy removes a shiny object and then quickly bends over to finish his victim. 

These horrifying images are just another reminder that the violence reverberates, not just across borders, but across generations.  In an interview with "Countdown’s" Alex Witt, MSNBC terrorism expert Steve Emerson assesses how such images are being used to recruit tomorrow’s terrorists.

ALEX WITT, GUEST HOST: Where this video was posted?  How is it being used?

STEVE EMERSON:  Well, it was posted out of London, out of a mosque that’s associated with Abu Hamza al-Masri who was only indicted recently for ties to terrorism, and unfortunately although this got a lot of attention and it was taken off the London Web site, the sad and disturbing reality is that it’s far more prevalent in terms of lauding the militant Islamic.  This is a problem that far transcends the actual issues of terrorism, because it goes into the whole issue of recruitment of young militants who ultimately might turn out to be terrorists.

WITT: Steve, it’s not the first time we’ve seen this kind of thing, because we’ve seen images of young children pretending to be terrorists before, most notably, in the Palestinian territories, that’s where babies are sometimes dressed up to look like suicide bombers, as we see here.  Are kids really being groomed to say “I want to be a suicide bomber when I grow up?” 

EMERSON:  Absolutely.  In 1994, I did a film called “Jihad in America” it aired on public television, and it earned me the condemnation of a lot of Muslim groups, but it revealed a lot of the indoctrination.  And there was one scene, in the United States, of a young Muslim kid at a summer camp near Chicago taking a branch and saying "I slaughtered the Jews," and then they got around the campfire and yelled and screamed and sang songs on behalf of Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas in support of suicide bombings. 

There were books that we have collected in the last few years, calling for young martyrs to volunteer around the world.  I think, unfortunately, the reality is that the ideology is there.  We just don’t pick it up unless somebody actually catches them in the act of posting it, as they did on the Internet. 

WITT:  Another very disturbing video was shared with us this week, a rap video; it showed masked men intercut with images with terrorist attacks.  Is that another level of sophistication in the battle for hearts and minds?  It looked very westernized and very well produced. 

EMERSON:   I call this "MTV-meets-jihad."  It was produced out of London by another radical organization that posted it on the Internet and designed, as you just stated, to appeal to a new generation, either of Westernized Muslims or even possibly of non-Muslims, such as John Walker Lindh. 

Clearly, this was a very sophisticated hip type of appeal that used rap music and sycophancy and used words such as calling for death to Bush and Blair, as well as death to the infidels.