HEADLINES

(Graphic 18+) Iraq: Child Solider Escaped ISIL Tells His Story

By Florian Neuhof, May 21, 2016. The National. Photos, Sub-stories Added By AR.

Yazidi boys, suffering from several infections from mosquito bites while held by ISIL, wait with their mother inside a bus outside the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk after having been freed by the extremists. Bram Janssen/AP Photo Yazidi boys, suffering from several infections from mosquito bites while held by ISIL, wait with their mother inside a bus outside the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk after having been freed by the extremists. (Credit: Bram Janssen/ AP).

In a bustling office in the suburbs of the Kurdish city of Dohuk, eleven-year-old Raed quietly begins to recount his ordeal at the hands of ISIL. It does not take long for his eyes to well up.

Raed is one of the few children who have escaped from ISIS camps. Thankfully he was granted leave to visit his mother, who was being kept as a slave in Raqqa; she was smuggled out with her children during his stay.

Florian Neuhof, writes in his article for The National: The diminutive, soft-spoken Yazidi boy had been earmarked as a future jihadist and potential suicide bomber by ISIL, which is grooming the next generation of fighters for its self-proclaimed caliphate in camps set up for this purpose.

Hundreds of Yazidi boys have been forced to undergo the brutal training after being taken from their parents when ISIL attacked Iraq’s northern Sinjar region in August 2014.

Raed struggles to hold back his tears as the memories come flooding back.

I forgot about some things, but other things are more difficult to forget. I can’t get them out of my head,” he says.

Raed spent eight months in a camp called Farouk near Raqqa, ISIL’S main stronghold in Syria, where about a hundred boys were subjected to a gruelling daily routine aimed at forging the model jihadi. He says roughly half of them were fellow Yazidis who had been forced to convert to Islam. The others were children of ISIL members sent there by their parents.

In early January, IS announced the first execution carried out by children. They killed two militants who confessed of being agents of the Russian intelligence. In late March, SOHR reported the participation of 9 children under the age of 18 in an execution operation carried out in the province of Hama. On May 27, a group of 25 IS child fighters executed an equal number of Syrian soldiers at the Roman theater of Palmyra, east of Homs.

Homs (Syria): A child fighter of the Islamic State in western Syria has executed an officer of the Syrian military by beheading, a UK-based monitoring group says.

In early January (2015), IS announced the first execution carried out by children. They killed two militants who confessed of being agents of the Russian intelligence. In late March, SOHR reported the participation of 9 children under the age of 18 in an execution operation carried out in the province of Hama. On May 27, a group of 25 IS child fighters executed an equal number of Syrian soldiers at the Roman theater of Palmyra, east of Homs. (Credit: IA-IS)

The boys were woken at four in the morning for prayers, the start of a long day filled with military training and indoctrination.

They were forced to watch videos of beheadings and other violent deaths, gory propaganda that has become a trademark of ISIL’s recruitment efforts. If they failed to memorise the Quran, they were beaten.

Snatched from their families and subjected to constant manipulation, the boys began to absorb the extremist group’s toxic ideology.

I started believing the things they taught me. Many of the kids in the camp have been indoctrinated,” says Raed.

To turn them into effective fighters, the boys at Farouk camp were taught how to shoot Kalashnikovs and machine guns. Propaganda material that ISIL has released online shows boys dressed in combat fatigues brandishing weapons and practising martial arts. Their hair is closely cropped and they wear black bandannas with the ISIL logo around their head.

The cruel irony is that the Yazidi boys are being brainwashed into becoming loyal servants of the group that devastated their community.

Eyewitnesses confirmed that the victims have been executed on charges of having sons fighting in the ranks of the Iraqi army –which is in conflict with ISIS. “Six women, some of them older than 60, have been brutally shot dead by ISIS terrorists in front of a crowd of people in the Hit district,” an eyewitness said under the condition of anonymity. (Credit: ABNA).

October 21, 2015. Eyewitnesses confirmed that the victims have been executed on charges of having sons fighting in the ranks of the Iraqi army –which is in conflict with ISIS.

“Six women, some of them older than 60, have been brutally shot dead by ISIS terrorists in front of a crowd of people in the Hit district,” an eyewitness said under the condition of anonymity. (Credit: ABNA).

Estimates vary, but ISIL is believed to have kidnapped about 5,000 people when its fighters stormed into Sinjar, seeking to eradicate the ancient Yazidi religion that they regard as devil worship. The women and girls were sold to ISIL members as sex slaves and servants in Iraq and Syria, while many of the boys ended up in the camps. The men were rounded up and shot.

The terror group has reportedly executed more than 10,000 civilians, including women and children, in Iraq and Syria from June 2014 to October 2016 when this statics was published. [01]

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIL has five training camps for boys in Syria. There are at least two such camps in Iraq, in Mosul and the nearby town of Tel Afar, according to a Yazidi teenager who was trained at both places.

Abu Shija, a Yazidi who helps smuggle members of the community out of ISIL areas, estimates that there are about 600 Yazidi boys in the camps in Syria, cut off from the outside world and closely guarded.

We have only been able to rescue a small number of them so far, unfortunately. It has become very difficult to get these children back. Some of our people have died trying to rescue them,” he says.

According to figures provided by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), only thirteen (13) of the six-hundred-three (603) Yazidi boys freed in Syria and Iraq so far were snatched from the camps. 

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The National: Yazidi escapees of ISIL’s youth training camps tell their harrowing stories


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