Islamic State militants recently beheaded a soldier in front of a group of children, some just six years old, outside a mosque in Libya for "educational purposes," a disturbing new report has revealed.
Pictures of the shocking execution released by the jihadist group show the prisoner in an orange jumpsuit kneeling before black-clad militants before being decapitated. A separate image depicts a militant holding the head of the victim in front of a group of small children, ages 6-8, for "education purposes".
According to a report from the The Libya Herald, the captive, named as Bayda-born Abdulnabi Shurgawi, was a volunteer soldier with Libya's national army and was captured earlier this week for "apostasy". The report notes that the execution took place outside Derna's Ateeq Mosque, an ISIS stronghold which has previously been the site of murders by the militant group.
Following the release of the images by ISIS supporters, a Libyan cartoonist released a sketch illustrating the latest execution, entitled "Derna and the future of its children," the RT reports. The drawing depicts a group of young boys watching a masked jihadist holding a knife to the neck of a man in an orange jumpsuit. Mimicking the militant's gestures, each child is holding a knife up to the neck of a doll.
ISIS, which aims to establish a caliphate throughout the Middle East, is notorious for performing gruesome executions of those who oppose its particular brand of Islam. The group often films the executions, often by beheading or stoning, and then publishes the photos and videos on social media for propaganda purposes.
The jihadist group also frequently uses children to further their aims; in March, the militants released a disturbing video in which several of its fighters were shown cutting off the heads of eight men who were led to their execution by teenage boys
A short time earlier, a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed that ISIS had recruited at least 400 children in Syria in the past three months for jihadist training and indoctrination. A later report revealed that the group had kidnapped about 500 children in two Iraqi provinces and taken them to their bases in Iraq and Syria to be trained as "cubs of the caliphate."
"They use children because it is easy to brainwash them. They can build these children into what they want, they stop them from going to school and send them to IS schools instead," said Rami Abdulrahman, head of the British group.
The Observatory notes that due to increasing difficulty in attracting adults into their troops, ISIS has appeared to boost its recruitment of children and teenagers this year. The group has promoted videos of young boys training as fighters, some of them wearing the militants' black masks, holding bullets and waving the group's flags with increasing frequency.
"The extremist group has specifically recruited children through free schooling campaigns that include weapons training and have given them dangerous tasks, including suicide bombing missions," said a report from Human Rights Watch.
Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst for the Clarion Project, a New York based research institute that tracks global terrorism, told Fox News, that this kind of military training is supported by many of the children's parents.
"If you believe the ISIS caliphate is the best place to be and Allah commands you to go there, you'd want your family there, too," he said.
He added, "ISIS is emphasizing its child recruits because it obviously makes for good footage but also to emphasize this is a generational struggle...you can kill off the current leaders and fighters, but their kids will fight on. It makes it harder to celebrate ISIS' losses if you know their manpower will be replenished and brainwashed with children."