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13yo Canberra boy targeted by ISIS recruiters, AFP investigating -

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KIM LANDERS: Federal Police are investigating a 13-year-old Canberra boy's Facebook account after it was targeted by an apparent Islamic State recruiter.

The teenager's concerned mother contacted authorities this week after reading a series of disturbing messages sent to her son.

The ABC's national security reporter, Andrew Greene, has the story.

ANDREW GREENE: Across the globe, Facebook boasts more than 1 billion active users. But in the social media world it's sometimes hard to tell who your friends really are.

On Monday morning a Canberra mother checked her 13-year-old son's account and found something very sinister. She took to Facebook herself to share the disturbing discovery.

FACEBOOK POST (voiceover): Today my 13-year-old son's Facebook account has either been hacked or he's mistakenly accepted a friend request by someone recruiting for ISIS, similar to the young teenager in Melbourne.

ANDREW GREENE: Posting on a local mothers' group page, she explained:

FACEBOOK POST (voiceover): We monitor our kids' accounts closely and thankfully picked it up immediately. Our son had no idea this person was on his account. We've got the police involved but the owner of the Facebook page is clearly recruiting for war.

ANDREW GREENE: The concerned public servant added:

FACEBOOK POST (voiceover): There were also private messages to my son from these people with detail I just can't go into. I just wanted to warn other parents to keep an eye on this. It's scary. Check Facebook setting, mommas, and keep your babies safe.

ANDREW GREENE: Levi West is a lecturer on terrorism and national security at Charles Sturt University.

LEVI WEST: If the case is correct and we are talking about, you know, someone as young as 13, then sadly it fits a pattern of behaviour of recruiting younger and younger people to the organisation or targeting them for propaganda or whatever it may be.

ANDREW GREENE: Federal Police don't want to publicly discuss details of this incident, which could be the first of its kind in Australia. But they say parents who have any concerns about their child's social media or email accounts being targeted by extremists should contact the national security hotline.

But, while the war against ISIS continues in Iraq and Syria, Levi West warns the online battle is already being lost.

LEVI WEST: ISIS have demonstrated an incredible capacity to leverage social media in a highly sophisticated and highly intentional way. So whilst I haven't seen any instances of hacking of Facebook pages or sort of trying to get beyond the natural kind of connectivity that you can get from person-to-person-to-person social media contact, to suggest that they couldn't I think would be a little short-sighted.

ANDREW GREENE: A battlefront that can reach into any home.

LEVI WEST: Twitter and social media more broadly are presenting enormous opportunities. Their capacity to run a couple of different options through Twitter - so narrative components, reinforcing the story and the justifications for the violence that they engage in - while at the same time being able to use it for recruitment and distribute material.

But also increasingly we're seeing elements of sort of command-and-control-type use of Twitter: so instructions on targets to hit and tactics to use and these sorts of things.

KIM LANDERS: Levi West from Charles Sturt University ending Andrew Greene's report.