The latest atrocity from the Islamic State is a video showing children – boys who look about ten years old, referred to by ISIS as the “Cubs of the Caliphate” – executing prisoners in Syria. Five of the murders are carried out with pistols, but the sixth is a knife beheading. The video is staged and shot like a video game. (WARNING: extreme graphic violence.)
The video is entitled “To the Sons of Jews,” and begins with images of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The first scene shows an ISIS militant uploading the kill video to Facebook, a boast of the terror state’s social-media prowess.
The video then shows the “Cubs of the Caliphate” training in the desert and listening to lectures from an ISIS instructor. The six child killers are then chosen and profiled with the flashy graphics and dramatic staging characteristic of Islamic State propaganda videos.
Heavy.com suggests this part of the video is meant to echo the Hunger Games films. The Times of Israel says the instructor is telling the children to “send a message” to the enemies of ISIS by executing prisoners.
The boys are then shown running through a ruined structure, which the video claims is located in “Wilayat al-Kheir.” The Times of Israel explains this is the Islamic State’s name for the eastern Deir Ezzor province of Syria.
The sequence is staged like a video game, or indeed like the Hunger Games contests, except the “enemies” these little jihadis are “fighting” are helpless bound captives. Each victim is introduced with a video insert before one of the children finds him, makes a dramatic declaration, and murders him. The killings are shown in extreme graphic detail. It takes a while for some of the men to die, and the camera lingers on every bloody moment. The knife beheading at the end gets slow-motion treatment. The staging of one murder appears to hold the victim responsible for the injury of children in battle, presumably as collateral damage.
The Times of Israel quotes Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, marveling that the Islamic State not only does not hide its use of child soldiers, but actively flaunts it. “Their use of child soldiers is part of a broader indoctrination effort,” says Houry. “They keep talking about how they’ll be the new generation.”
TOI passes along an estimate from the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights that ISIS has “recruited more than 1,100 children since the beginning of 2015, and more than 50 have been killed.”