Supporters of the jihadist terror group the Islamic State (ISIS) have begun to circulate photos of a ten-year-old boy known only as Abu Ubaidah, reportedly killed alongside his father while fighting on behalf of the terrorist organization.
According to the UK Independent, the child had developed something of a following with the nickname “the Cub of Baghdadi,” after the leader of the terrorist organization often referred to as ISIS–or Daesh, its Arabic acronym. In images believed to have been taken shortly before his death–though they remain unverified–the child can be seen smiling for the camera while wearing a combat uniform, sometimes with his father, who reportedly died as a result of the same airstrike. The child is also seen in some photos alone, proudly brandishing an automatic weapon. Some on social media who follow the Islamic State’s philosophy have heralded the boy as the “youngest martyr” for the Islamist cause:
I’m crazy about Abu Ubaidah more than belieber to justin bieber .
— l Z Z A H (@nurizzatiaida) October 8, 2014
— Islamic State Times (@ISTimes1) October 7, 2014
Abu Muhammed Al-Absi and his son Abu Ubaida (Shibil Al Baghdad, Baghdadi’s cub) were killed by an American air strike pic.twitter.com/bmFuOb4mye
— Mustafa (@Mustafa82979767) September 28, 2014
The child is also featured in a video on Youtube, whose title roughly translates to “Lament Baghdadi’s Cub — Farewell, Hero — Islamic State”:
Reports of the child’s death first began to circulate in late September. Recently, however, chatter about the boy has resurfaced online. He is reportedly one of a large number–yet unestimated–of child soldiers the Islamic State has forced into killing.
In the Vice magazine film Inside the Caliphate, children were prominently featured being taught the tenets of jihad by Islamic State terrorists, and instructed to fight proudly for the Islamic Caliphate. In Raqqa, Syria, the “capital” of the Islamic State, “preaching vans” travel around town brainwashing children into repeatedly reciting jihadist mantras.
The Islamic State’s media outlet–Al Hayat Media–has itself released footage that shows the group is not only brainwashing children into accepting jihad, but is training them for battle. In one video, prominent jihadist Omar al-Shishani interacts with children in what is believed to be a terrorist training camp where children are learning guerrilla warfare. Many children have reportedly been taken out of Europe, as well, to return to Syria to fight for the Islamic State.