"Behead the doll," an Islamic State (IS) group instructor told a 14-year-old boy, Yahya, (a name he acquired from IS captors after he was abducted from Iraq's Yazidi religious minority). He couldn't slit the doll correctly first time, so he chopped it thrice.
Like him, the other children in the IS camps also received a doll and a sword. Then they were lined up, more than 120 of them, and given their next lesson by IS instructors to behead their dolls.
"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,” said Yahya in an interview last week in northern Iraq.
He was one of the fortunate ones who managed to escape from the IS training camps. The IS created a macabre in northern Iraq, where they went to search for Yahya.
Yahya and the other victim teenagers were taken to Farouq Institute for Cubs in Raqqa, Syria. Their Kurdish names were replaced by Muslim Arabic names. Yahya, his younger brother and mother were captured and kept in that institute separately from their mother. For nearly five months he underwent a training which included usage of weapons and studying Quran. Sometimes his training involved punching his own brother and knocking out his tooth.
"I was forced to do that. The trainer said that if I didn’t do it, he’d shoot me. They told us it would make us tougher. They beat us everywhere with their fists," he said.
Women were captured to work as sex slaves to IS loyalists. Dozens of Yazidi boys were forcefully converted to Islam and tried to turn them into jihadi extremist fighters.
"They are planting extremism and terrorism in young people’s minds. I am terribly worried about future generations. The indoctrination mainly targets the Sunni Muslim children living under IS rule. But the abduction of the Yazidis, whom IS considers heretics ripe for slaughter, shows how the group sought even to take another community’s youth, erase its past and replace it with IS radicalism," said Abu Hafs Naqshabandi, a Syrian sheikh dwelling in Sanliurfa, Turkey.
He runs religion classes for refugees to counter IS ideology.
An IS militant gives out bag full of stationary kits to students.| Source: haaretz.com
The Militants hold outdoor events for children, where they distribute soft drinks, candy and biscuits, along with religious pamphlets and CDs. The IS followers distribute toys to attract children to join them. 16-year-old Ahmed is one of those brainwashed teenager who spends long hours at the local IS-run mosque. He started picking fights with his family when they did not offer prayers. In November, he ignored his mother's tears, abandoned his family to join ISIS.
Parents now homeschool their children to avoid the wrong thoughts and provocations taught by IS. It was fate and good luck that got Yahya out from the hell hole in March.
IS fighters had left to carry out an attack. While the guards were asleep, Yahya and his brother slipped away telling the other children that he was going to throw out the garbage. Yahya had a knowledge about his mother's stay in a nearby house from where they picked her up and fled to northern city of Syria, Minbaj. There they stayed with Russian members of IS. He later contacted his uncle in northern Iraq who negotiated with the Russians to bring them back.
Pardon us for not disclosing their present place of living as we too wish them to be in the best of health and spirit.
Feature image source: CNN