Due to the importance of social security as a core of the understanding and analyzing terrorism files and the ideological and behavioral extremism, Barq for Consulting, in cooperation with Ahmad Talab Naser, presents this investigative survey about the processes of ideological framing and the behavioral implementation of the processes of conscripting children Isis carried out in the areas it controlled.
Since it controlled the areas liberated from the regime, Isis closed the field schools which resumed teaching under the free army control despite the bombardment that targeted these schools.
After Isis fully controlled Raqqa and Deir Ezzor, it established its “invitation” centers in the shape of schools after it deactivated most teaching topics, especially history, religion and most other theoretical courses. It appointed trusted teachers to teach religious courses that dominate all other courses. They underwent special rehabilitation courses that qualified them to teach later in Isis teaching centers according to the new curricula designed to supplant the old curricula, although the old curriculum was amended to be in harmony with the Syrian revolution against Assad regime which imposed its “Baathist” fingerprint on the curricula for more than 40 years.
Teaching methodologies in “The Land of Caliphate”:
Religious and doctrinal sciences are considered the main courses in teaching children in addition to the Arabic language. As it is known, a part of Isis demographic structure is the sons of foreigners who entered the Syrian land with their families. Their most important nationalities will be mentioned in this report.
Most often, Arab “religious” people who came from Morocco and the Gulf, in addition to Syrian specialists who were obliged to stay in their cities and towns and who declared loyalty to Isis to get a job in its educational and other institutions, were in charge of teaching these courses. Isis is similar to Baath regime in conditioning joining the party to get a governmental job.
Children learn reading and reciting the Quran, Hadith, prophet biography, some of Ibn Taymiyyah’s books, especially those related to fatwas, jihad and the Qesas (retribution) sentences within interpretations far away from repentance or asking for repentance before applying verdicts mentioned in Quranic verses and Hadiths and Ibn Taymiyyah’s sciences. The goal is to raise the child on a proper fighting ground even in civil life that requires different regulations of those of wars and jihad.
As for the other courses such as history for example, they were done by teaching children the books of “Biographies and invasions” related to the prophet biography, invasions and wars in addition to Orthodox Caliphs battles started by Caliph Abubakar as-Saddique historically called “Wars of Apostasy”. Isis adopts them as main principle in its war against the Syrian revolution factions and their civil members considering them apostates legalizing fighting against them and killing them. Abubakar as-Saddique’s fight against the apostates, however, was because the tribes refused to pay Zakat after the prophet passed away, not for any other reason. Isis also taught the history of Islamic invasions battles that expanded at the time of Umar ibn Al-Khattāb which eliminated the Persian presence in Iraq and the Byzantine in the Levant and North Africa and the Umayyad Caliphate in Al-Andalus. This makes the feeling of hatred against the Crusade Europe and its Arab and regional allies, on top of which is Turkey, deepen inside children.
Geography courses complete those of history; Isis adopts its map to give the contemporary historical names of Islamic invasions. We find Wilayat al Sham, Wilayat al Iraq, the Arab Jazeera, Egypt, Morocco, Khurasan (Iran and the neighboring areas) and the Rome land, Europe.
In the second place is the teaching of scientific courses such as math, physics, chemistry and natural sciences. They don’t differ a lot from what is taught in the schools of the other cities and the surrounding countries. Chemistry, however, focuses on teaching male children chemical interactions and reactions that enable them to make explosives used in bombs and explosive belts Isis uses in its wars against everyone.
Role of Isis media and publications:
Isis depended mainly on leaflets and booklets it printed and distributed to the educational invitation centers affiliated to “Invitation Divan”, where the media points are affiliated to it as well. These are responsible for circulating news and monitoring it on paper and electronically. They also attracted children to join the teaching centers and the Jihadi camps on Isis lands.
These points spread all over the towns and cities under Isis control, which were active and crowded such as markets and near mosques.
In Deir Ezzor, for example, there was one media point and another one was in Hatla town near the city. There were more than 3 points in Al Mayadeen and 2 in Al-Bukamal and another two points in Al-Busayrah. The most important points and the biggest number were in Raqqa city, which Isis considered as its capital in Bilad al-Sham Wilayat.
As we already said, these media points had direct influence, especially on children via displaying the publications that arouse their interests and triggers them to join Isis. This was often without their parents’ approval.
The other children joined Isis because of family circumstances such as disagreements or financial conditions or the imitation of their peers who joined Isis and gained financial and monetary powers. The media exploited these points to convince this part of children that this is the right choice and everyone else is on the false track.
Here the role of media became prominent in all Isis facilities. The character of Isis media spokesman became second to that of “Al Baghdadi”. At first, it was the character of Al Adnani and it became that of Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir, of the Moroccan origin, after Al-Adnani was killed.
The way media was inside Isis was the way it was outside. Isis sites and the electronic pages monitored by many “inviters” have played the main role in recruiting many children from outside Isis land and the surrounding countries. Isis media could attract many children from the refugee countries that surround Isis borders by broadcasting the religious teachings and jihadi enthusiastic songs, accompanied by well-directed scenes in performance and photography of the “produced” Isis battles. In addition to this was the simulation of the Syrian children feelings displaced outside their land, especially those in Turkey; many children of families in camps and bordering cities disappeared and the families were surprised that the children had joined Isis camps in Syria. This was done by displaying the privileges of jihad and martyrdom while defending their destroyed homes and the land the invaders occupied and bombarded. These are subject to the infidel Crusade invader or by triggering revenge for the killing of their parents, family members or friends by the regime gang and its allies. Children joined Isis after media played its role in controlling their minds via religious courses, similar to what was done to adults who wanted to join and by registration in the “soldiers divan; in Al Mayadeen for Wilayat al Khayr, Deir Ezzor for example. Then dates of joining the religious courses were given to them to prepare them psychologically and ideologically for the coming steps.
Children, the backbone of “the caliphate state” conscription camps:
“Cubs of the caliphate state” is the name Isis gave to the children who were plunged in Isis military training camps.
Those children were between 8 and 15 years old and most of them were the sons of Isis adult fighters, the Ansar (the Syrians) and the foreigners. The rest were the sons of families in cities who were helpless in Isis controlled areas.
The cubs in their camps followed several training programs together with the adult fighters starting from arduous body training and ending with lessons of theoretical and practical military tactic while using real weapons and dressed in military uniforms. These trainings included lessons in doctrine, Sharia and the psychological and morale orientation to incite the fighting of “the unbelievers, the Crusades and the apostate teams”, depending on Isis vision and concept of those surround its state.
The conscripted children… Origin and classification:
The origin of those conscripted were from the countries of the previous Soviet Union in the aftermath of its perestroika and from countries adjacent to Russian Federation now, such as Chechnya, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in addition to the countries of Morocco, the Arab Gulf and Western Europe. This team enjoyed a special attention from the trainers who are from those countries in most cases.
By observing their training, it seems that Isis prepared them to carry out leading “jihadi” missions because of their extra ability to endure trainings and their previous readiness to obey all orders due to the way they were brought up at home before “immigrating” to “the land of Caliphate” by their fathers who have already participated in previous “jihadi” wars in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Iraq.
As for the children in Isis controlled areas, Raqqa and Deir Ezzor, they formed the largest team and the ones mostly considered for statistical conscription to plunge them in the front lines in the future and for suicidal bombings and other explosive operations.
Militarization and training:
The first process the camp leadership did was to triage the children according to the specializations they prefer. The most important was “the martyrdom” by bombs and explosive belts followed by “suicide bombers” and then the other specializations.
It is worth mentioning that most of the “martyrdom” operations were conducted by those children, not by adults as some believe!
As is the cases in all military troops, the conscripted children were trained since the early morning (after dawn prayers in the camp mosque and reciting the Quran); the sport exercises start followed by shared breakfast.
After this, the specialized military training starts, theoretically and practically, with the full arming and military outfit. The most important lesson is the military tactic, both the theoretical and the practical. Isis members of previous military experience supervised the training in all camps. As we mentioned earlier, most of them were foreigners who mastered the Arabic language, from Chechnya in particular. In tactic lessons, children are usually taught everything related to wars in cities, storming of gatherings and buildings and the implanting of bombs and explosive devices.
As for training on the use of light personal weapons, such as gun and automatic machine gun, it is the most important mission. Children in no time become able to assemble, dismantle and clean the gun in addition to its use. The use is often learned by shooting at real people; those imprisoned by Isis or those sentenced to death for reasons that range between writing about people’s conditions under Isis to communicating with enemies against Isis. The hands of the prisoners were tied and they were sent in buildings specially designed for training. The storming order is given to the armed children who are with guns mostly to eliminate the “enemies” hiding inside.
Here also there is the role of Isis war media to monitor these operations in full by cameras distributed everywhere inside the building since the start of the attack until the complete elimination of the disarmed “enemies”. The recording will be downloaded and posted on Isis pages and sites and on Youtube to use it as a terrorist method against the “enemies”, the whole world.
The practices of the “caliphate state” drive Syrians run away from “the land of the caliphate”:
Later, people got tired of Isis practices and acts that start to be clear day after the other, especially when they started to feel the imminent danger that threatened their children who were deprived of the least of the safe life requirements such as learning. Playing and gaining education and knowledge. This made them take the risk and run away out of Isis controlled areas. Some of them were able to take their children who were recruited by Isis in camps with them. They left behind their homes and properties in addition to their money and ran away despite their knowledge that they might be killed once Isis know about their plans in Isis borders or in the adjacent countries similar to what happened to many families who were killed by the Turkish “police” who were afraid of Isis members penetration to their country.
A considerable number of families could migrate with their children to Aleppo and Idlib suburbs. Many of those children are still suffering from the consequences of Isis practices already mentioned although many of them joined the schools in these suburbs. A considerable part of those children is a time ticking bomb that might explode any time in the future if the effects of Isis practices are not treated as they are engraved in the children’s minds when they were under the control of that complicated organization.
An inevitable note:
it seems that Isis supervisors, with their training and teaching activities practiced on children were people who were familiar with educational theories and principles found in all books of “logic”, “education” and “manners”. However, they tailored them in a way that served their takfiri /religious extremist/ abolishing “doctrine”. Then they implanted them inside the minds of those children they recruited.
John Locke, the English philosopher and intellectual, who considers “The Human mind as a tabula rasa”, a white sheet at birth in particular. In his vision of the theory of “knowledge”, he believes that the source of knowledge and ideas is not the mind, but knowledge is founded in empirical observation and experience via the senses; the mind receives feelings from outside, from experience or reality. These feelings and impressions change to ideas in the mind and they are what form the bases of mental operations. The mind only links among them and infers rules and principles from them.
No doubt that Isis did its best to apply this theory is spreading its training and instructions among children to make sure children are convinced with them and they become deeply rooted in the children cognitive mind and consequently they continue on and on. Herein lies the danger: Isis collapse does not necessarily mean the end of what it planted in the minds of the children or simply erasing them.
Locke and many other intellectuals also believe that bringing up also cares about the building of the body and its strength. It is not limited to the bringing up of the mind but it focuses more on bodybuilding and the attempt to bring up children implies the endurance of difficulties and the persistence.
This was exactly what Isis aimed at in its refinement of the individual and collective body skills by merging the “jihad” doctrine with physical training to be able to fight the enemies of the “caliphate state”, overcome them and eliminate them.
In conclusion: what should happen?
To detonate these time ticking bombs today, we have to address the reasons that triggered their existence as a first step. We have already mentioned some of them. Therefore, the second step is represented in spreading a bringing up education among the families of those children who were raised under Isis control and among the educators and teachers who supervise those children inside Syria and in the neighboring countries to which they migrated. This educational bringing up lies in assigning curricula specialized in psychological support to those children who came from Isis areas or those who are still there after Isis withdrawal. Because the culture of extremism and violence children acquired from Isis mostly depended on Islamic doctrine from which Isis took what it suited its fundamental goals and culture, the curricula have to try to show the correct interpretation of the Islamic doctrine that develop the humanitarian religious values. These values are represented in implanting the principles of tolerance, altruism and friendliness via preparing an educational plan to guide young students to the right conducts that must be followed in schools and outside them while seriously monitoring their behavior. In addition, the educational aid that suites their ages should be used, especially the one used in distinguished teaching methodology to integrate them with their peers in the other areas.
This is done provided that the standard of the psychological and behavioral progress is the seriousness and the thorough coordination between the educational institutions and children’s families to know the developments in their behavioral activity.
There must also be a number of people who are specialists in psychology and sociology to detect the extremist conduct Isis planted in children and treat it early. There must also be different activities to give the children the chance to practice their hobbies inside the school and to get rid of the residues implanted by Isis.
It is also possible to open the floor for discussion and dialogue among those children and the teachers as well as the school administration. This can be done by holding forums and competitions in and out schools and by giving students the chance to express their opinions about all cases while gradually discussing the wrong opinions Isis adopted and by mentioning evidence that shows why these opinions are wrong so that students can be convinced of the correct opinion.
Mass media in all their shapes and kinds are primarily responsible for laying the foundations of doctrines and concepts that affect the recipient’s mentality, ideology and culture either positively or negatively. It is inevitable to pay attention to what is shown on the screens and on other mass media tools while highly focusing on condemning extremism, violence and the policy of taking rights by force in the name of religion without referring to the available laws and regulations.
Despite all this, the family remains the strongest link in addressing the problem. Although the family was previously forced to leave the children recruited by Isis because of pressure and fear, the family can now save the child by cooperating with the educational institution out of the home and by doing its best inside the home to provide stability and to prepare the suitable environment to raise a good family religiously and ideologically. If love, understanding and cooperation among the family members prevail, this will lead to the avoidance of extremism and enmity and the prevention of Isis instructions and ideas to return to the child’s mind.