Kurdish official Saeed Mamouzini told IraqiNews.com that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) kidnapped 127 children in Mosul, Iraq, to train them as jihadists.
Mamouzini said in an interview for IraqiNews.com, “The organization kidnapped, during the past few days, 127 children aged between 11 to 15 years,” noting that “these children have entered in special camps to be trained on the use of weapons and implementation of terrorist operations.”
Mamouzini added that “ISIS had kidnapped hundreds of children during the last period, and they were trained to carry out suicide operations.”
The report has not been independently verified, though often reports of this nature from the heart of ISIS-controlled areas are difficult to confirm, as the terror group does not allow international terrorists to travel freely in its territory.
When ISIS captures a town, they often murder the older men, kidnap the females for sex slavery, and force the young boys to join their “Cubs of the Caliphate” camps. Raghab Ahmed, 14, is one boy who fortunately escaped the terrorist grab. He told the Daily Mail that they taught him and other young boys to kill.
Another boy described how they practiced beheading dolls.
“Then they taught me how to hold the sword, and they told me how to hit,” one boy, only known as Yahya, told the Associated Press. “They told me it was the head of the infidels.”
One activist told human rights groups the militants told the older people that ISIS only cares “about the new generation.”
In August 2014, one video included Omar al-Shishani, a Chechen leader for ISIS, at a training camp. The children showed off different chants, songs, and military formations they learned. At one point, the boys fall to their knees, raise the guns to their eyes, and show al-Shishani they can balance the gun and aim properly.
A training video released in December 2014 is more brutal than previous tutorials. The boys are dressed in black, and the Islamic State flag is displayed to make sure the viewer always sees it. According to Newsweek:
The video features footage of boys around the age of ten lined up to receive “training” from their instructor who delivers a series of punches and kicks to each pupil, as well as breaking sticks over their heads, forcing them to assume the press up position and kicking them in the stomach.
One boy is chosen to be the victim as other boys attack him. He takes down each one with moves taught to him by the man who beat him at the beginning of the video. Then after the training is finished, the boys form a circle with their hands behind their head and a man beats them. The boys are led outside with AK-47s. Each one takes part in a military exercise in a grassy field. The end of the video shows the teachers lined up while the boys shake their hands. Each teacher hugs and kisses the child.
Charlie Winter, a researcher for the Quilliam Foundation, told Newsweek he never viewed adults beating children in training videos. He also said the jihadist group knows videos with children upset the West and could be used to “divert attention from more strategically important ISIS camps where adult fighters are trained.”
“They talk about child soldiers with pride in the Islamic State,” he said. Newsweek continued:
“They know it will outrage Westerners,” Winter says.
“Another important aspect of releasing footage like this is that ISIS are saying ‘look at how powerful we are. [W]e are able to start our indoctrination at a young age!'”
“It plays into the whole pseudo state image they are trying to promote. They are saying they have an administration. They are trying to show that the Islamic State is going to be around for a while.”