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In an IS training camp, children told: Behead the doll

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In an IS training camp, children told: Behead the doll
By ZEINA KARAM and BRAM JANSSEN

SANLIURFA, Turkey (AP) — The children had all been shown videos of beheadings and told by their trainers with the Islamic State group that they would perform one someday. First, they had to practice technique. The more than 120 boys were each given a doll and a sword and told, cut off its head.

A 14-year-old who was among the boys, all abducted from Iraq's Yazidi religious minority, said he couldn't cut it right. He chopped once, twice, three times.

"Then 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," the boy, renamed Yahya by his IS captors, told The Associated Press last week in northern Iraq, where he fled after escaping the IS training camp.

When Islamic State extremists overran Yazidi towns in northern Iraq last year, they butchered older men and enslaved many of the women and girls. Dozens of young Yazidi boys like Yahya had a different fate: The IS sought to re-educate them. They forced them to convert to Islam from their ancient faith and tried to turn them into jihadi fighters.

It is part of a concerted effort by the extremists to build a new generation of militants, according to AP interviews with residents who fled or still live under IS in Syria and Iraq. The group is recruiting teens and children using gifts, threats and brainwashing. Boys have been turned into killers and suicide bombers. An IS video issued last week showed a boy beheading a Syrian soldier under an adult militant's supervision. Last month, a video showed 25 children unflinchingly shooting 25 captured Syrian soldiers in the head.

In schools and mosques, militants infuse children with extremist doctrine, often turning them against their own parents. Fighters in the street befriend children with toys. IS training camps churn out the Ashbal, Arabic for "lion cubs," child fighters for the "caliphate" that IS declared across its territory. The caliphate is a historic form of Islamic rule that the group claims to be reviving with its own radical interpretation, though the vast majority of Muslims reject its claims.

"I am terribly worried about future generations," said Abu Hafs Naqshabandi, a Syrian sheikh who runs religion classes for refugees in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa to counter IS ideology.

The indoctrination mainly targets Sunni Muslim children. In IS-held towns, militants show young people videos at street booths. They hold outdoor events for children, distributing soft drinks and candy — and propaganda.

They tell adults, "We have given up on you, we care about the new generation," said an anti-IS activist who fled the Syrian city of Raqqa, the extremists' de facto capital. He spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve the safety of relatives under IS rule.

With the Yazidis, whom IS considers heretics ripe for slaughter, the group sought to take another community's youth, erase their past and replace it with radicalism.

Yahya, his little brother, their mother and hundreds of Yazidis were captured when IS seized the Iraqi town of Sulagh in August. They were taken to Raqqa, where the brothers and other Yazidi boys aged 8 to 15 were put in the Farouq training camp. They were given Muslim Arabic names to replace their Kurdish names. Yahya asked that AP not use his real name for his and his family's safety.

He spent nearly five months there, training eight to 10 hours a day, including exercises, weapons drills and Quranic studies. They told him Yazidis are "dirty" and should be killed, he said. They showed him how to shoot someone from close range. The boys hit each other in some exercises. Yahya punched his 10-year-old brother, knocking out a tooth.

The trainer "said if I didn't do it, he'd shoot me," Yahya said. "They ... told us it would make us tougher. They beat us everywhere."

In an IS video of Farouq camp, boys in camouflage do calisthenics and shout slogans. An IS fighter says the boys have studied jihad so "in the coming days God Almighty can put them in the front lines to battle the infidels."

Videos from other camps show boys crawling under barbed wire and practicing shooting. One kid lies on the ground and fires a machine gun; he's so small the recoil bounces his entire body back a few inches. Boys undergoing endurance training stand unmoving as a trainer hits their heads with a pole.

IS claims to have hundreds of such camps. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented at least 1,100 Syrian children under 16 who joined IS this year. At least 52 were killed in fighting, including eight suicide bombers, it said.

Yahya escaped in early March. Fighters left the camp to carry out an attack, and as remaining guards slept he and his brother slipped away, he said. He urged a friend to come too, but he refused, saying he was a Muslim now and liked Islam.

Yahya's mother was in a house nearby with other abducted Yazidis — he had occasionally been allowed to visit her. So he and his brother went there. They travelled to the Syrian city of Minbaj and stayed with a Russian IS fighter, Yahya said. He contacted an uncle in Iraq, who negotiated to pay the Russian for the two boys and their mother. A deal struck, they met the uncle in Turkey then went to the Iraqi Kurdish city of Dohuk.

Now in Dohuk, Yahya and his brother spend much of their time watching TV. They appear outgoing and social. But traces of their ordeal show. When his uncle handed Yahya a pistol, the boy deftly assembled and loaded it.

And he will never forget the videos of beheadings IS trainers showed the boys.

"I was scared when I saw that," he said. "I knew I wouldn't be able to behead someone like that. Even as an adult."
___

Jannsen reported from Dohuk, Iraq. Associated Press writers Salar Salim in Irbil, Iraq, and Vivian Salama in Eski Mosul, Iraq, contributed to this report.

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-- (c) Associated Press 2015-07-20

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....and to think my parents were concerned about the dangers of marijuana.

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MJ? My parents were afraid the horse would buck me off or that I'd fall into the well.

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Cute, in a Charles Manson happy face way.

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A new, and very different reason to be concerned about little boys who want to play with dolls.

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MJ? My parents were afraid the horse would buck me off or that I'd fall into the well.

Not to worry. Lassie would have saved you...

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Stop the Muslim boat people from entering your country. They are trained at a very young age and have no problem killing men, women or children. They have no regrets and no sorrow!

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most of us know about the nazi attrocities, these guys are way worse and it is happening today. They need to be stopped or are we too busy with Greece or the elections in the US.

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I wonder if one day the whole of Europe and the west will just decide to throw them all out.

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I wonder if one day the whole of Europe and the west will just decide to throw them all out.

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it will never happen. leftist European populists will rant that "Islam is the religion of peace" till the very end of Europe. and till emerging of European caliphate.

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There is no doubt there are a lot of kids who just like the lifestyle. Why not? You can kill, maim, kidnap, steal, and rape at will. I would think that would appeal to a lot of desperate young men, who have never felt that kind of ruthless power. It is a license to kill, with the seeming blessing of a prophet, if you are a ridiculously stupid, ignorant, gullible, and violent kid, or your man or woman. The reality is that these punks are nothing more than gang rapist, murdering thugs, with not one molecule of morality in their entire bodies.

The thing that is increasingly apparent, is the widespread unwillingness to speak out against these super freaks. The Ayatollah in Iran made a statement that the US is inciting violence against Muslims. But, did he once mention the absolute foolishness of the super freaks? No. And many others do not either. The King of Jordan is one of the few in a position of power and influence who regularly speaks out against the extremists. Good on him. He is a man of great courage. Where are the others? What about the other heads of state, in that region? What about the mullahs? What about the other religious heads? The celebrities? The writers and poets?

I am starting to feel there is a certain amount of guilt inherent in not speaking out. Guilty by association. A bit like the average German citizen during WWII. Sounds harsh, but unless there is universal condemnation and a total and complete lack of acceptance of the gang rapist, murdering fools, who is to stop them from inflicting the kind of pain, suffering, and terror on humanity they are now engaged in?

And what are the long term implications of not speaking out, and making these thugs into absolute pariahs in their own homeland. The people have the power to make that happen. Of course it will require great courage, and of course there is great risk in doing so. No gangster likes to be told they have to stop raping, maiming, killing, robbing and behaving badly. But, what are the other alternatives?
I believe we are looking at the possibility of a second crusade. A time when the average citizen from the west rises up against men, women and children from the Middle East, in a united crusade. I would hate to see that happen, as I still believe the average Muslim is moderate in their thinking. But, I am increasingly in the minority on that kind of attitude, these days. It is imperative that the Muslim world make it known that they do not approve of these gangsters and their behavior.

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A new, and very different reason to be concerned about little boys who want to play with dolls.

I can see a day where moderate minded Muslim families see their son playing with a doll and say, "oh my, thank God he is only gay. What a relief he is not an extremist kid!"

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