According to the experts at IHS Jane’s analytical center, ISIS attacks have increased this year, particularly in Iraq and Syria as the group responds to substantial territorial losses. Additionally, it’s been reported that the group is resorting more and more to mass-casualty violence as it comes under heavy pressure from multiple angles.
Against this background one can’t help but notice the apparent desire of ISIS to make active use of children in their operations. Recently ISIS militants have published a propaganda video, that depicts the creation of a so-called “orphan Army” that would consist of children who lost their parents as a result of the armed conflict in Syria. The video claims that those children “crave for a chance to avenge their parents.”
At the same time those children that live in the territories occupied by ISIS are being used in aggressive propaganda campaigns that this group is known for. This “black PR” causes deep shock among Internet users around the world, since no sane human being can calmly watch the horrific footage of the fierce combat training minors are subjected to. ISIS is actively urging the children aged between nine and twelve years to join its ranks. Those children become highly skilled with small arms while indoctrinated by extremist teachings, which will shape them into “true mujahideen.”
What’s even worse, in ISIS training camps children are being taught to execute people without any remorse. Iraqi media sources have recently distributed the testimony of a boy who escaped one of these camps, where he claims that they were forced to chop off doll’s heads with swords for them to then be prepared to execute ”infidels.”
In a training camp in northern Iraq, ISIS has been training over 120 children. All of them were Yazidis, which is why ISIS units decided to force them into denouncing their faith before becoming faithful ISIS extremists. All of them became prisoners last year when ISIS militants seized these lands from Kurds and slaughtered all men, while taking women and young girls into slavery.
There’s yet another ISIS military camp for children in northern Syria called “Children of the Caliphate.” In a video that has been published on the Internet one can see that children that are being held there are all under 15 years of age, are dressed in military uniform and wear terrorists bands on their heads. One minor that was fortunate enough to escape from the camp describes his experience there in the following manner: “They taught us how to cut the throat or how to trigger a suicide belt. We were also taught how to use a hand grenade – pull the ring and throw it immediately or it will blow up in your hands. “
Aside from being ,”practical” skills children are being subjected to ideological brainwashing. Thus, answering the simple questions of their “teachers”, children of different ages, “swear” their allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and swear to fight against the “filthy infidels” until their dying breath.
Pictures depicting “educational activities” of ISIS are being uploaded to the Internet on a regular basis. The latest showed the outskirts of a settlement in the Syrian governorate of Al-Hasakah, where a person that is being subjected to a violent execution is surrounded by children who are closely monitoring all the actions of the executioner.
However, to push forward their propaganda, terrorists are keen to use even newborn babies. Thus, one can come across a picture on Twitter of a newborn child lying in his cradle with a pistol, a grenade and a birth certificate issued by ISIS.
According various sources, ISIS recruiters are taking children into the ranks of ISIS on a monthly basis to replace the fighters that are being liquidated in anti-terrorist operations.
These actions are reminiscent of the campaign that was launched by a crumbling Nazi Germany in 1944, when the Wehrmacht’s daily losses reached levels of 5,000 people. At that time German commanders began to actively conscript teenagers to form the so-called Hitler Youth. By the conscription of children, Hitler, as does the current ISIS leadership, hoped to prevent the collapse of his criminal state due to the lack of human resources. The actions of modern recruiters from ISIS resemble the actions of Nazi masterminds like Goebbels, Himmler and Axmann, who tried to paint violent and senseless bloodshed in heroic colors.
However, we all know what end awaited Hitler and his collaborators. There’s little doubt that the “black plague of the 21st century” of ISIS will not evade the same fate.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”