Takfiri militants active in Iraq and Syria have recruited children as young as 10 years old to fight for the so-called Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
10-year old Abdullah is the youngest known volunteer fighting with the ISIL in Iraq’s Mosul, according to The Daily Beast. It describes the moment of Abdullah casually walking into a local grocery store. This would be a common picture, except that the boy was masked and had a heavy machine gun, “about as big as him.”
ISIL that has seized some parts of northern Iraq is, according to different estimates, between 7,000 to 10,000 militants.
In Mosul, which the group overran two weeks ago, the group is believed to have 4,000 militants and is desperate for more foot soldiers, the Daily Beast reported.
As soon as the ISIL took over the city, Takfiri extremists started looking for young men aged between 10 and 30 “both to control the territories they have and to join the fight on other fronts within Iraq.”
While the 10-year old Abdullah joined ISIL, following in his father’s and brother’s footsteps, there are boys who are taken away from their families and forced to be in the group.
In neighboring Syria, a 14-year-old from Raqqa was lured into one of the ISIL camps, The Syria Deeply reported.
Mohammed was convinced the camp, specially designed for boys 15 and younger, had been established to teach Takfiri ideas.
There are cases of children being kidnapped and “brainwashed” by ISIL terrorists. Abducted in May in the city of Aleppo, Syria, the fate of 133 of 159 teenagers remain uncertain.
Two of the boys who escaped told the media that ISIL was forcing the children to undergo lessons in Takfiri ideology. Extremists beat children who refuse to obey the lessons.
In its report published on June 24, the Human Rights Watch said that in Syria, ISIL specifically recruited children through free schooling campaigns that included weapons training, and have given them dangerous tasks, including suicide bombing missions.
In its annual report issued mid-May, the UN also said that “children fighting with ISIL [in Syria] are reportedly paid like adults (35,000 Syrian pounds, approximately $200) and undergo both weapons and extremist indoctrination training.”