Over the course of three years, Daesh has released multiple videos of children participating in their horrifying activities. In 2015, Daesh released a video of enlisted child soldiers killing captured Syrian fighters in the town of Palmyra. In 2016, a video that caught my attention captured a 4-year old British child declaring, “We are going to kill the kuffar (or ‘infidel’) over there!” and then proceeding to point to a car filled with soldiers, which he detonates seconds later.
The increased institutionalization of the child Jihadi continues to this day by even more gruesome means, as many of these children have become so indoctrinated with this ideology that they are willing to threaten and kill their own parents to serve it. Daesh has even created an entire “genre” for blood-thirsty child soldiers that they call Ashbal Al Khilafa, or the cubs of the Caliphate. However, as this battle draws to a close (hopefully soon) with the progress of the Iraqi Security Forces in Mosul, many questions arise. What will happen to these children, who have been brainwashed by Daesh’s twisted ideology of Salafi Jihad as the right and only path to “success”? How will these children be reintegrated into society after being fed this indoctrination, seeing this bloodshed, and experiencing this war?
In Syria, some doctors have created special procedures and terms for children who have witnessed such horrors and developed PTSD. However, in Iraq, this runs much deeper. On both sides of the conflict, children have been a main concern for Iraq’s future in hopes that they will one day be the leaders of Iraq. Children whose parents have died fighting Daesh, or those who have been orphaned by Daesh’s constant attacks in Baghdad and other cities, are also affected by this. This raises another question: What will happen to children who have lost family members in this conflict and have forever been scarred by this experience?
In a series of articles that I will be releasing over the next few months, I will address many of these questions through research and interviews of children and families who have been impacted by this war.
All research will be published on State of the Expat in a series that will be titled “Building for the Future; The War-Torn Child”. I hope that by the end of the series, I will have shed some light on a cataclysmic problem that will shape Iraq’s future.