By Brigitte L. Nacos
A few days ago, the disturbing image of a Syrian boy, injured in yet another bombing raid, was publicized by media around the world. Just for a short moment the news cycle drew public attention to the unnerving suffering of the youngest victims of war.
There was no outcry of humanity; there were no spontaneous peace demonstrations.
There were no signs that presidents and prime ministers from around the globe were particularly touched by the little boy’s image. Instead of finally cooperating in a credible effort to bring peace to the killing fields of Syria and Iraq, the most powerful governments hardened their positions against each other.
As distressing as the plight of this little boy and the many, many thousands of children like him is, equally, or perhaps even more disturbing are the visuals of children who kill on command of their ISIS handlers.
The Islamic State is not the first terrorist organization that recruits and trains young boys to commit unspeakable violence but ISIS is the first terrorist enterprise that documents and publicizes how it runs its training camps for young boys, many not older than 9- and 10 years and some significantly younger. Nor does ISIS make a secret of its objective to use its “Sharia camps” to produce a whole new generation of jihadists.
Indeed, in one of these readily available online propaganda videos, one jihadist in an ISIS training camp for young boys declares proudly, “This generation of children is the generation of the Caliphate.” Some fathers are complicit in the transforming young children into eager killers. In one video, a man called Abdullah, the Belgian, is shown with his little son, perhaps 5- or 6-years old. The father prods the little boy again and again to say “The Islamic State.” He asks questions like, “What have the infidels done?” The son finally answers, “They kill Muslims.”