herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

SCHOOL OF JIHAD teaching children war and terroR

Forced viewings of beheadings and torture, training with weapons almost as big as they are and daily lessons in extremist theology: if you're a boy growing up in Isis-controlled territory across Syria and Iraq, the word education means something very different to the rest of the world.

Official Isis media outlets are circulating videos and images which they claim show life in the 'School of Jihad', where children under the age of 10 are encouraged to fire AK47 rifles and acclimatised to the horrors of war.

As part of a series of propaganda releases created by Muassissat al-Furqan for the group's media wing, young children appear in videos that experts say are an attempt to show the "utopia" of the world under Isis.

Yet what they actually portray has been described by a UN Human Rights Council report as "a war crime" - the recruitment and military use of children under the age of 15.

One video has been titled on YouTube "Cubs of the Islamic State" - the name by which Isis now refers to itself. A voice-over in Arabic boasts that these "cubs" are sure in their faith and in the auspices of Isis.

Children sat before a teacher, who remains unidentified, are asked about the principles and tenets of Islam, in what appears to be a lesson in religion.

The video then cuts to interviews and clips of children from the "school" singing and speaking - alongside them the barrels of AK47s can just be seen in shot.

Young boys are interviewed about the beliefs fostered at the school - while sitting holding rifles.

Another clip posted as part of the "Messages from the Land of the Final Battles" series appears to be a graduation video.

It shows the new 'School of Jihad' graduates lined up before a stage, listening to a speaker, while rows of adults who are thought to be their parents can be seen watching on.

Armed men watch on as children who are thought to be 'graduating' from the Isis school stand in the foreground.

The video has been produced by Al-I'tisaam Media, another official media wing of Isis, which focusses on publicising the kind of society created in the controlled territories.

BLOODY

As with the former video, it has been interspersed with bloody and violent footage from the militants' operations in the field - the sorts of videos escaped children have said they are made to watch.

Though the precise time and location when the videos were shot cannot be independently verified, references to "Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham" suggest they pre-date June 29, when the caliphate and rebranding were announced.

It is unknown why they have surfaced now - but they coincide with tweets from Isis-linked accounts that claim to show "new graduates of Jihad School".

They come after the UN's Human Rights Council found that Isis "has established training camps to recruit children into armed roles. At the camps, the children recruited received weapons training and religious education," the report reads.

"The existence of such camps seems to indicate that ISIS provides weapons training for children. Subsequently, they were deployed in active combat including suicide bombings.

hnews@herald.ie

Promoted articles

Entertainment News