An ISIS propaganda video shows children being trained to execute prisoners of war. Terrormonitor.org, a website dedicated to tracking the propaganda websites and social media of known terrorists and associates, released a series of stills from the video, which shows children who appear to be as young as 3 years old, holding pistols to the heads of captured prisoners and preparing them for execution. The video goes as far as to even show the young children killing captured Kurdish prisoners.
One of the most disturbing images shows a young child, aged 3 or 4, aiming a small handgun at a Kurdish man tied to a chainlink fence, in what appears to be a toy ball pit. The video pans around while the older ISIS member urges the child to shoot, which he does.
The children, referred to as “Cubs of the Caliphate,” are often inducted in special camps where they are force-fed ideological training by older Islamic State members, known as “Lions.” These children are not only used as propaganda pieces for the videos, however. They are also being used to man security posts, work alongside ISIS police officers, and in some cases, even fight for the caliphate.
The Islamic State has increased its intake of child soldiers after losing huge numbers of militants to desertion, surrender and extreme loss of territory.
In July, 2017, Mosul, ISIS’ stronghold in Iraq was liberated by Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition. The Iraqi Prime Minister arrived in Mosul on July 9 to announce the victory over ISIS. On July 10, an official declaration of victory was proclaimed.
The Battle of Mosul began in October 2016 when Iraqi Government forces with allied militias, the Kurds and international forces launched a major military campaign dubbed Operation “We Are Coming, Nineveh.” ISIS controlled areas near around the city of Mosul were first taken back, followed by the eastern portion of the city in January 2017. It wasn’t until July 2017, that the rest of the city was taken back from ISIS.
The Islamic State has used social media more efficiently than any other terrorist organization, including the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Michael Steinbach, who serves as Executive Assistant Director for FBI’s National Security Branch, told Congress in July of 2016 that “no group has been as successful at drawing people into its message as ISIL,” referring to ISIS as ISIL which incorporates the region of the levant.
“ISIL’s extensive reach through the internet and social media is most concerning as the group continues to aggressively employ the latest technology as part of its nefarious strategy,” he continued.