ISIL is traumatizing a whole generation of Iraqi and Syrian children by subjecting them to violence and slavery. Many of these children have witnessed unimaginable violence, seen loved ones killed, and homes destroyed. As a result, many are showing signs of severe trauma and depression that they will carry with them for many years to come.
ISIL, also known as Daesh, has kidnapped nearly 500 hundred children to be used as suicide bombers and child soldiers. And it has threatened families, forcing them to give up their boys to fight with Daesh.
In 2015 alone, Daesh has trained more than 400 hundred children in Syria, calling them "Cubs of the Caliphate."
Children receive intense military and religious training during which they are forced to perform brutal acts and brainwashed to eliminate empathy for ISIL’s victims.
Currently some 600 children younger than age 13 are patrolling the streets of Mosul, the second largest city of Iraq.
Several months ago at the Palmyra Roman amphitheater in Syria, Daesh forced innocent children to brutally slaughter a group of Syrian regime soldiers in front of an audience and produced a video of the execution.
Daesh directs much of its propaganda at mothers, instructing them to raise their sons and daughters in the fold of Islamic extremism. A guidebook published by Daesh praises female Islamic fighters as a way to encourage girls to fight. It prints bedtime stories about martyrdom and heroic jihadists. It also encourages children to watch violent videos of Islamic State battles and beheadings in an effort to desensitize them.
But most of the Arab world is not deceived by Daesh and openly abhors what it stands for, as a recent parody of a Daesh slogan in Arabic makes clear: “My dear Muslim brothers and sisters, do you know to whom the word DAESH refers?
“To everyone who kills, rapes, dishonors women, steals money, displaces people, recruits child soldiers and commits ethnic and religious cleansing.”
The brutality of Daesh toward children, women, Christians, Yezidis and Shia must be stopped.