Among the darkest and most disturbing pieces of propaganda disseminated by the Islamic State’s (Isis’s) media machine are the slew of posed photos, hate-filled proclamations and grisly beheadings featuring children from Iraq, Syria and now Libya – the Caliphate Cubs.
In their most recent offering, Daesh (IS) supplied footage of a twisted game of hide and seek. The children hunted through al-Rahba castle in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province for hidden hostages. When they found the men, who were accused of being spies, the successful recruits were rewarded with execution privileges.
Boys of no older than eight dispatched the prisoners with handguns, shooting at point blank range to the approval of their supervisors. The brutal acts of violence, of a type which has become IS’s calling card throughout the world, sit alongside a dozen other executions carried out by child soldiers.
Leaked IS documents have shown that the brainwashing of children and the use of child soldiers are a cornerstone of the militants’ military vision. Along with the provision for the instruction of jihadi veterans and fresh foreign recruits, IS outlines the importance of child soldiers in its training camps.
Alongside training in jurisprudence and manners children are to be instructed in the use of light arms according IS’s blueprint. The document also stipulates that “outstanding individuals” in the programme for child soldiers can be selected for special assignments.
IS states that education is its highest calling. In this instance education refers to “glorifying the ruling authorities and discarding differences between sects”.
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