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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Inside an ISIL training camp, children are told: Behead the doll.

Inside an ISIL training camp, children are told: Behead the doll. (GulfNews).

Sanliurfa, Turkey: 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 instructors: Behead the doll.

A 14-year-old who was among the line of abducted boys from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority 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 in northern Iraq, where he fled after escaping the Daesh training camp.

Dozens of young Yazidi boys like Yahya had a different fate: The Daesh sought to re-educate them. They forced them to convert to Islam from their ancient faith and tried to turn them into militant fighters.

It is part of a concerted effort by the extremists to build a new generation of militants, according to interviews with residents who fled or still live under Daesh in Syria and Iraq. The group is recruiting teens and children using gifts, threats, and brainwashing. Boys have been turned into executioners and suicide bombers. A Daesh video issued last week showed a boy beheading a Syrian soldier under an adult militant’s supervision. Last month, a video showed 25 children unflinchingly shooting 25 captured Syrian soldiers in the head.

In schools and mosques, militants infuse children with extremist doctrine, often turning them against their own parents. Fighters in the street befriend children with toys. Daesh training camps churn out the Ashbal, Arabic for “lion cubs,” child fighters for the “caliphate” that Daesh declared across its territory.

Recruit: Joining Daesh a certain death sentence “I am terribly worried about future generations,” said Abu Hafs Naqshabandi, a Syrian shaikh who runs religion classes for refugees in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa to counter Daesh ideology.

The indoctrination mainly targets Sunni children. In Daesh-held towns, militants show young people videos at street booths. They hold outdoor events for children, distributing soft drinks and candy - and propaganda.

They tell adults, “We have given up on you, we care about the new generation,” said an anti-Daesh activist who fled the Syrian city of Raqqa, the caliphate’s de facto capital. He spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve the safety of relatives under Daesh rule.

With the Yazidis, whom Daesh considers heretics ripe for slaughter, the group sought to take another community’s youth, erase their past and replace it with radicalism.

Yahya, his little brother, their mother and hundreds of Yazidis were captured when Daesh seized the Iraqi town of Sulagh in August. They were taken to Raqqa, where the brothers and other Yazidi boys aged 8 to 15 were put in the Farouq training camp. They were given Muslim Arabic names to replace their Kurdish names. Yahya asked that his real name not be used for his and his family’s safety.

He spent nearly five months there, training 8 to 10 hours a day, including exercises, weapons drills and Quran studies. They told him Yazidis are “dirty” and should be killed, he said. They showed him how to shoot someone execution-style, from close range. The boys hit each other in some exercises. Yahya punched his 10-year-old brother, knocking out a tooth.

The trainer “said if I didn’t do it, he’d shoot me,” he said. “They ... told us it would make us tougher. They beat us everywhere.”

In a Daesh video of Farouq camp, boys in camouflage do calisthenics and shout slogans. An Daesh fighter says the boys have studied “jihad” so “in the coming days God Almighty can put them in the front lines to battle the infidels

Now in Dohuk, Yahya and his brother spend much of their time watching TV. They appear outgoing and social. But traces of their ordeal show. When his uncle handed Yahya a pistol, the boy deftly assembled and loaded it.

And he will never forget the videos of beheadings Daesh trainers showed the boys.

“I was scared when I saw that,” he said. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to behead someone like that. Even as an adult.” Read the full story here.

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