According to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a watchdog group based in England, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has recruited over 400 children since the beginning of 2015.
The terrorists place the children in the “Ashbal al-Khilafah,” or the “Cubs of Lions of the Caliphate.” Residents within al-Mayadin and al-Bokamal watched militants open offices of these ranks specifically to recruit children:
These offices work on convincing and attracting the children who live near IS posts and who go to schools and mosques, the children who want to join IS without the approval of their parents and the children who come to the squares where the operations of executions, whipping, crucifying and beheading, and stoning carried out. The organization also induces the parents and guardians to send their sons to these camps where the children undergo to Sharia and military courses. The Shariaa course firms IS ideology inside the brain of those children while the military one teaches them how to use weapons and fight the enemies during clashes, battles and storms. IS also tries to lure the children by money, weapons and cars in order to convince them to join its own camps. In addition to, IS receives and takes care of children who suffer from congenital malformation. IS uses children to work as spies and agents to gather news and as guards on its own posts.
The group also reported a battalion of ISIS militants sent to Kobane in January consisted of 140 men, but the majority were under the age of 18. The terrorist group lost six members under the age of 18 in the fight.
“They use children because it is easy to brainwash them,” explained Rami Abdulrahman, head of the SOHR. “They can build these children into what they want, they stop them from going to school and send them to IS schools instead.”
In February, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child reported that ISIS uses mentally handicapped children as suicide bombers and human shields.
“We have had reports of children, especially children who are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding,” said expert Renate Winter. “There was a video placed (online) that showed children at a very young age, approximately eight years of age and younger, to be trained already to become child soldiers.”
In the past year, ISIS released numerous videos of militants training young boys to be soldiers. A video titled “School of Jihad” presented militants teaching children as young as ten how to behead, torture, and handle automatic rifles.
The terrorists released “The Blood of Jihad Part 2,” a video that revealed militants training child soldiers in Iraq, in November. The boys in the video appear to be younger than 12 years old, but the terrorists teach them the “handling and firing of automatic weapons, while instructors also teach them basic martial arts skills.”
A video from December showcased a children’s training camp around Damascus, Syria, in which children are seen practicing combat on each other and being beaten. The boys, known as the Caliphate Cubs, are dressed in camouflage and masks with AK-47s in their hands. A few youngsters appear to have very pale skin, which means they might be from a Western country. Inside a mosque, the boys show off their ability to take apart and put back together their AK-47s in front of their teachers.