They’re the “next generation” of Islamic radicals, and they’re being trained en masse at the Al Farouk Institute for Cubs in Raqqa, Syria—if a new video released by ISIS is indeed what the group claims it to be.
From Fox News:
The 9-minute video released Monday shows about 70 camouflage-clad kids, who are reportedly the children of foreign fighters who have flocked to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamist army. An instructor states in Arabic that most of the children are in the second phase of training and that they represent the “next generation” of ISIS. The video illustrates the charge in a UN Human Rights Council report last year that determined that Islamic State “has established training camps to recruit children into armed roles under the guise of education.”
“At the camps, the children recruited received weapons training and religious education,” the report stated. “The existence of such camps seems to indicate that ISIS systematically provides weapons training for children.
“Subsequently, they were deployed in active combat during military operations, including suicide-bombing missions,” it stated.
According to the Clarion Project’s Ryan Mauro, this video serves a bigger purpose than shock value. They’re showing us these training camps because they want to convince the world that they’re not just committed to wreaking present havoc; it’s their version of proof that they’re here to stay. “ISIS is emphasizing its child recruits because it obviously makes for good footage but also to emphasize this is a generational struggle,” Mauro said. “You can kill off the current leaders and fighters, but their kids will fight on. It makes it harder to celebrate ISIS’ losses if you know their manpower will be replenished with brainwashed children.”
The authenticity of the video has not been independently verified.
The footage of the children was released at around the same time as another (unverified) video showing Kurdish Peshmerga fighters being paraded in cages through the streets of a city in Iraq. Although the video does not show what happened to the fighters in the cages, it does contain a warning: We say to the Peshmerga: Leave your jobs, or your fate will be like these, either the cage, or under the ground.
ISIS’ brutality has achieved its intended effect. The International Medical Corps told NPR recently that the mass violence has caused new types of psychological trauma to manifest in the people of Iraq—most of whom have been subjected to this type of brutality for over a decade.
At a camp for displaced people in northern Iraq, you pass rows of tents to reach the clinic run by the International Medical Corps. They have medicines to treat all kinds of problems: diabetes shots, vaccines, heart pills.
But it’s harder to cure what’s afflicting one woman in particular.
“The pain inside of me is so deep,” she says. “I just cry every day.”
During one afternoon in Baharka camp clinic, a parade of people came sharing their stories of trauma. We’re not using the names of these patients, because they still have family in areas controlled by ISIS, and they fear for their relatives’ safety.
One man says ISIS extremists forced him to dig his own grave with a shovel. Another describes watching militants cover his friend in kerosene and set him on fire.
“I’ve totally changed,” says the 29-year-old man. “I’m not like normal people any more. I don’t expect to be fixed.”
Terrorsts commit acts of terror for one reason—it works. The ensuing instability leads to the type of discontent and social fracture that causes devolution of the sort we’ve seen in states like Somalia and Yemen.
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