Daesh trains kids in beheading, suicide bombing

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Daesh trains kids in beheading, suicide bombing
In this photo released on April 25 by a militant website, young boys hold rifles during a parade after graduating from a religious school in Tal Afar, near Mosul.

Sanliurfa (Turkey) - In schools and mosques, the militants infuse children with their extremist doctrine, often turning them against their own parents.

By AP

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Published: Sat 18 Jul 2015, 3:46 PM

Last updated: Sun 19 Jul 2015, 9:35 AM

The children were each given a doll and a sword. Then they were lined up, more than 120 of them, and given their next lesson by their Daesh group instructors: Behead the doll.
A 14-year-old who was among the line of abducted boys from Iraq's Yazidi group said at first he couldn't cut it right - he chopped once, twice, three times.
"Then they taught me how to hold the sword, and they told me how to hit. They told me it was the head of the infidels," the boy, renamed Yahya by his Daesh captors, recalled in an interview last week with The Associated Press in northern Iraq, where he fled after escaping the Daesh training camp.
When Daesh extremists overran Yazidi towns and villages in northern Iraq last year, they butchered older men. Many of the women and girls they captured were given to Daesh loyalists as sex slaves. But dozens of young Yazidi boys like Yahya had a different fate: The group sought to re-educate them. They forced them to convert to Islam from their ancient faith and then tried to turn them into extremist fighters.
It is part of a concerted effort by the extremists to build a new generation of militants, according to a series of AP interviews with residents who fled or still live under Daesh in Syria and Iraq. The group is recruiting teens and children, using cash, gifts, intimidation and brainwashing. As a result, children have been plunged into the group's atrocities. Young boys have been turned into executioners, shooting captives in the head in videos issued by the group. Last week, for the first time, a video showed a child involved in a beheading: a boy who appeared younger than 13 decapitating a Syrian army captain. Kids have also been used as suicide bombers.
In schools and mosques, the militants infuse children with their extremist doctrine, often turning them against their own parents. Fighters in the street befriend children with toys. Daesh training camps for children churn out the Ashbal, Arabic for "lion cubs," young fighters for the "caliphate" that Daesh has declared across the regions its controls.
"They are planting extremism and terrorism in young people's minds," said Abu Hafs Naqshabandi, a Syrian Sheikh in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa, where he runs religion classes for refugees to counter Daesh ideology. "I am terribly worried about future generations."
The indoctrination mainly targets the Sunni children living under Daesh rule. But the abduction of the Yazidis, whom Daesh considers heretics ripe for slaughter, shows how the group sought even to take another community's youth, erase its past and replace it with Daesh radicalism.
The camp where Yahya and other Yazidi boys were taken was the Farouq Institute for Cubs in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which serves as the caliphate's de facto capital. The boys were given Arabic names to replace their Kurdish-language names. Yahya asked that the AP not use his real name because of fears of retaliation against himself or his family.
Yahya, his little brother, their mother and hundreds of Yazidis were captured when the extremists overran the town of Sulagh in northern Iraq last year. They were taken to Syria, where the brothers were separated from their mother and put in the Farouq camp, along with other Yazidi boys aged between 8 and 15, Yahya told.
He spent nearly five months there, undergoing eigh to 10 hours a day of training, including running, exercising, weapons training and studying the Holy Quran.
The boys hit each other in some exercises, and Yahya said he punched his 10-year-old brother, knocking out his tooth.
In an online Daesh video of the Farouq camp, boys in camouflage do calisthenics. Some repeat back religious interpretation texts they have memorised justifying the killing of prisoners and infidels.
Daesh videos from other training camps show young boys in military fatigues marching with weapons, crawling under barbed wire and practicing shooting. One kid lies on the ground and fires a machine gun; he's so small that the recoil bounces his entire body back a few inches.
Other scenes show boys undergoing endurance training. They stand unmoving as a trainer punches them or hits their heads with a pole. They lie on the ground as a trainer walks on them.
Most of the children look stony-faced, their only emotion a momentary flicker as they try to remember texts they are told to recite. "By God, Obama and all those allied against the State, we will kill you. Who will? We lion cubs of the caliphate," proclaims one boy who looks younger than 10, holding an automatic rifle as he addresses the US president.
Daesh has claimed to have hundreds of such camps, though the true number is not known - nor the number of children who have gone through the training. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based organisation that follows the Syrian war, said it documented at least 1,100 Syrian children under 16 who joined Daesh so far this year, many of whom were then sent to fight in Syria and Iraq.
At least 52 were killed, including eight who blew themselves up in suicide attacks, the organisation said.
The effects of the indoctrination are chilling. In a Daesh video released last month, 25 young boys with pistols take position between 25 captured Syrian soldiers brought into the ancient Roman amphitheatre in the Syrian city of Palmyra. Unflinching, each boy shoots a soldier in the back of the head. Previous videos have shown boys killing what Daesh alleged were an Israeli spy and two Russian agents.
Often, recruiting starts on the streets of Daesh-held areas at outdoor booths called "media points," where militants show young people propaganda videos. Militants hold outdoor events for children, distributing soft drinks, candy and biscuits, along with religious pamphlets and CDs.
Bit by bit, the idea of fighting as a duty is drilled into young minds. The Daesh group's acolytes distribute toys in the street and tell children to call them if they want to join, according to an anti-Daesh activist who recently fled Raqqa.
In Eski Mosul, a town in northern Iraq recently liberated from Daesh, residents showed the AP a book the militants used to lecture children titled "The Clear Evidence of the Heresy of Those Who Support the Crusader Campaign against the Caliphate."
"America is the head of the infidels, atheism and the central base of corruption and moral decay - it is the land of shame, crime, filth, and evil," the book says.
Umm Ali, a woman from the Daesh-held Syrian town of Afrin, said her sons were approached by Daesh members several times, and she hated that children saw beheadings and other punishments carried out in public squares.
Even in refugee camps, children are not out of Daesh reach. Often under the guise of humanitarian organisations, the Daesh organises religious lessons to recruit people, said Naqshabandi, the Syrian Sheik. The militants would pay students who enroll 300 Turkish liras ($110) a month, said Abu Omar, a field worker at the camps.
"They taught us to hate," said a 15-year-old former refugee camp resident who witnessed Daesh indoctrination, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"This is what they teach" - and he moved his hand sharply across his throat.
Yahya, the Yazidi boy, escaped the Daesh training camp in early March, when Daesh fighters left to carry out an attack.
As the remaining guards slept, he said he and his brother slipped away, telling the other children he was going to throw out the garbage. He asked one friend to come with them, but the friend chose to stay: He was Muslim now, the friend said. He liked Islam.

In this photo released on April 25, 2015, by a militant website, young boys hold rifles and Daesh group flags as they exercise at a training camp in Tal Afar, near Mosul, northern Iraq.
In this photo released on April 25, 2015, by a militant website, young boys hold rifles and Daesh group flags as they exercise at a training camp in Tal Afar, near Mosul, northern Iraq.
A young Syrian holds a religious book as he stands inside a dormitory at an Islamic teaching centre designed to counter Daesh group indoctrination, near the Turkish-Syrian border city of Sanliurfa, southern Turkey.
A young Syrian holds a religious book as he stands inside a dormitory at an Islamic teaching centre designed to counter Daesh group indoctrination, near the Turkish-Syrian border city of Sanliurfa, southern Turkey.
Young Syrians pray as they attend a religious class at an Islamic teaching centre designed to counter Daesh group indoctrination, near the Turkish-Syrian border city of Sanliurfa, southern Turkey.
Young Syrians pray as they attend a religious class at an Islamic teaching centre designed to counter Daesh group indoctrination, near the Turkish-Syrian border city of Sanliurfa, southern Turkey.


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