Theyy stand in the front row at public beheadings and crucifixions held in Raqqa, the Islamic State’s stronghold in Syria. They’re used for blood transfusions when Islamic State fighters are injured. They are paid to inform on people who are disloyal or speak out against the Islamic State. They are trained to become suicide bombers. They are children as young as 6 years old, and they are being transformed into the Islamic State’s soldiers of the future.
The Islamic State has put in place a far-reaching and well-organized system for recruiting children, indoctrinating them with the group’s extremist beliefs, and then teaching them rudimentary fighting skills. The militants are preparing for a long war against the West, and hope the young warriors being trained today will still be fighting years from now.
While there are no hard figures for how many children are involved, refugee stories and evidence collected by the United Nations, human rights groups, and journalists suggest that the indoctrination and military training of children is widespread.
Child soldiers aren’t new to war. Dozens of African armies and militias use young boys as fighters, in part because research has shown that children lack fully formed moral compasses and can easily be persuaded to commit acts of cruelty and violence.
The young fighters of the Islamic State could pose a particularly dangerous long-term threat because they’re being kept away from their normal schools and instead inculcated with a steady diet of Islamist propaganda designed to dehumanize others and persuade them of the nobility of fighting and dying for their faith.
“[The Islamic State] deliberately deny education to the people who are in the territory under their control, and not only that, they brainwash them,” said Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who’s tasked with thinking about future threats and planning for the Army’s future. “They engage in child abuse on an industrial scale. They brutalize and systematically dehumanize the young populations. This is going to make this a multigenerational problem.”
Ivan Simonovic, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights, recently returned from a visit to Iraq, where he interviewed displaced Iraqis in Baghdad, Dohuk, and Erbil. He said there is a “large and dangerously successful recruitment” program.
Speaking to a small group of reporters at the U.N., he said the fighters “appeal” to some of the youngsters and that they have approved adept at “manipulating young men and children.” He explained that “they project an image of being victorious” and offer the promise that those who fall in battle will “go straight to heaven.”
“What is striking for me is to meet mothers who [tell us], ‘We don’t know what to do,’” he said. “Our sons are volunteering and we can’t prevent it.”
On the front lines of Iraq and Syria, the boys who join or are abducted by the Islamic State are sent to various religious and military training camps, depending on their age. At the camps, they are taught everything from the Islamic State’s interpretation of sharia law to how to handle a gun. They are even trained in how to behead another human and given dolls on which to practice, Syria Deeply, a website devoted to covering the Syrian civil war, reported in September.
Children are also sent into battle, where they are used as human shields on the front lines and to provide blood transfusions for Islamic State soldiers, according to Shelly Whitman, the executive director of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, an organization devoted to the eradication of the use of child soldiers.
Eyewitnesses from the Iraqi towns of Mosul and Tal Afar told United Nations investigators they have seen young children, armed with weapons they could barely carry and dressed in Islamic State uniforms, conducting street patrols and arresting locals.
U.N. human rights experts have “received confirmed reports of children as young as 12 or 13 undergoing military training organized by ISIL in Mosul,” according to a report written jointly by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the human rights office of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq.
In al-Sharqat district in Salah al-Din, the number of youngsters manning checkpoints “drastically increased” during the last week of August, the report said. And in the Nineveh Plains and Makhmour, male teenagers were swept up in August in a recruiting drive by advancing fighters from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Some of these boys reported that they “were forced to form the front line to shield ISIL fighters during fighting, and that they had been forced to donate blood for treating injured ISIL fighters,” according to the report.
Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi, the pseudonym of a 22-year-old man who lived in Syria until about a month ago, is the founder of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a Twitter account and Facebook page that documents the brutality of life in Raqqa, the city where he grew up. In addition to him and three others now living outside of Syria, there are 12 people inside of Raqqa, who contribute photos and information about what’s going on inside the city.
While it is true that some of these children are ”volunteers” who have no idea what they are getting into, the majority of them are sold to ISIS.
One of the most important tenets of Islam is the prohibition on borrowing money in interest.
All such borrowing is misleadingly called ”usury.”
The actual definition of usury is an exorbitant amount of interest.
But in Islam any interest at all is ”unislamic.”
This keeps the poor perpetually poor.
It also keeps the wealthy perpetually in power.
ISIS looted and extorted ransoms to their wealth.
They use that wealth to buy poor people’s children for slaves of all types.
Sex slaves can be as young as 9.
Worker slaves can be any age at all.
Ordering your slaves to their deaths is perfectly legal.
(A Saudi, years ago in a luxury hotel in the USA, killed his own male slave by sexual abuse and beatings and was allowed to simply leave the country because….that is simply legal under his culture.)
ISIS seems to have a very tightly controlled inner circle and a very large ”membership” to abuse.
Some abuses recently brought to light included slow-witted suicide bombers, drugging fighters, killing smokers, killing music lovers, killing those who didn’t cheer the immolation video.
Islam is a failed pattern for a society, but that doesn’t mean Obama is correct about it falling apart anytime soon.
One leadership may fall but the one that takes its place will be bad in its own ways.
Look at Jordan.
It has almost 9 million people.
Almost 3 million of them are NON-CITIZENS who will never be given citizenship.
1 out of 3 there are not ever going to have a stake in Jordan.
Failure is a feature of Islam, not a bug.
Shocking! Or, is it?
Of course, madrasas have been teaching Muslim children to hate for some time. This is the logical next step. No doubt, part of the argument for blaming the West for the attacks upon them is the abject poverty among the peoples of this region, but there is a really good reason for the poverty other than Western greed. They dedicate far too much of their time, energy and education to hating and killing.
So, we will need to be steeled to the concept that at some time in the not-so-distant future, our military personnel will be shooting down children. And women. For, to these terrorists, these beings are just another weapon to be deployed. There will be mistakes made once this becomes common, but those mistakes will have to be overlooked and the true culprits that brought this to be held accountable; radical Islamists.
One day, we will have a leader that can actually say those words, much less take serious action to eliminate it.