The Islamic State has released a new video advertising its “Farouk Institute for Cubs,” a new training camp designed to teach young boys the basics of both radical Islam and warfare. Unlike many of its videos depicting child soldiers, this video shows dozens of child soldiers in combat uniforms and handling weapons.
The video, NBC News reports, shows various aspects of terrorist training and Islamic prayer. The children are described as Islamic State “cubs,” and are shown in both physical training and religious classes. NBC estimates that about 80 of the children are foreigners, believed to have been brought to the Islamic State of Raqqa by their parents to join the self-professed “caliphate.”
While the entire video posted to social media lasts about nine minutes, the Daily Mail has published an excerpt that shows the children in military training, wearing black headbands reading “there is no god but Allah” in Arabic:
Fox News notes that, in one part of the video, a man claimed to be a terrorist “instructor” explains that the children in the video have already passed one round of classes, and are thus an intermediate group. The children appear to be between the ages of 9-12. The man in the video calls the boys the “next generation” of the Islamic State.
Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst for the Clarion Project, tells Fox News that the video is intended to show the quality of Islamic State education, perhaps inciting parents to enroll their children. “If you believe the ISIS caliphate is the best place to be and Allah commands you to go there, you’d want your family there, too… For ISIS supporters, this is like signing your kid up for the best private school,” he explains.
The Islamic State has been repeatedly accused of recruiting child soldiers and brainwashing children into their radical Islamist ideology. Previous ISIS videos have shown footage of children learning how to behead and torture, being beaten by their “instructor” as an endurance exercise, and making explosive devices. In an extensive report, the United Nations accused the Islamic State of using child soldiers and even using mentally challenged children as suicide bombers, and their worth to the organization is less than children who can more easily be taught to kill.
ISIS appears poised to expand its child operations in Syria and Iraq. Radio Free Europe reports that jihadists on social media have begun to advertise the construction of a jihadist child training camp for English speakers in Raqqa. Two schools have been announced to be under construction for both boys and girls: the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi school for boys and the Aisha School for girls. RFE also notes that ISIS had already opened a Russian-language children’s jihad school for Chechnyan transplants: “The group said via announcements on social media that the schools would be based on Shari’a law and would avoid ‘false gods,’ like Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin, and ‘theories like evolution.'”