Middle East (MNN) — Five hundred children were recently kidnapped by ISIS. Reports say they will likely become “cubs of the Caliphate.”
“These kids are taken to camps. They call them ‘cub camps,’ but there, they are threatened, they’re beaten, brainwashed, and basically trained to kill,” explains Matt Parker of Kids Alive International.
These 500 children are just a few who have been kidnapped and brought to camps.
“I think this is really part of ISIS’s strategy,” Parker says. “It creates a whole new generation of young people who are fighting on their behalf.”
Children as Weapons
There’s no doubt that these children are being turned into weapons. Children as young as 8 years old are being used as suicide bombers, fighters, human shields, spies, and sex slaves. “In their view, children are expendable,” Parker says.
“They can be brainwashed easily. They can be used as suicide bombers. Forced to do whatever [ISIS wants] them to do. They’re seen as expendable, and it’s a way of also shocking the world.”
As a way of shocking the world, ISIS is using kids as pawns for their brutal propaganda machine. Videos and photos show children being trained to fight, carrying AK-47s, and performing executions.
One recent video obtained by BBC showed a 14-year old Syrian boy being tortured by electrocution. “When they electrocuted me, I used to scream calling for my mother. But as soon as I did, [one of the torturers] used to up the voltage even more. ‘Don’t bring your mother in it,’ he used to say,” the boy, Ahmed, told BBC.
“They pretend they’re religious, but they’re infidels….They pretend to be enforcing the rules of Muslims, but they’re not. They hit and kill people,” he added.
Healing needed, physically and emotionally
Ahmed was one of the lucky few to escape ISIS’s terrible grasp before it was too late, but he was not left psychologically unscathed.
“It’s rare that I’m able to sleep,” he said. “When I first came to Turkey, I used to have nightmares all the time. I got some treatment. But I couldn’t sleep. I used to dream about it all the time. Whenever I closed my eyes, I used to have nightmares, then stay up all night.”
This experience is common to many of the children who have escaped or have been released.
“It’s really difficult for these kids,” Parker says. “Even if they survive, there is a lot of psychological and physical damage that is often being caused to these kids. Very difficult to repair, depression [and] suicidal tendencies among these kids is the norm. They can lose their sense for what is right and what is wrong.”
What makes matters worse is the battle doesn’t end when they return home.
“The whole readjustment is really hard. Often these kids are ostracized from their families and their communities. And as a result, they have very little hope for the future,” Parker says.
In Jesus’ name, Kids Alive is helping them start new lives.
“We provide protection, and we provide care for them,” Parker says. “We provide support to kids that have suffered traumatic experiences as a result of war and conflict. And we give these kids a chance to be children again, despite the experience they’ve had in their lives. We give them that opportunity to be children.”
Pray for an end to this abuse and exploitation of children. Pray that more children will be released and rescued.