The Islamic State group is training its next generation of fighters by locking them in a steel cage and forcing them to fight each other, a chilling new propaganda video has revealed.
The Daily Mail first reported that a seven minute-long video released by ISIS-linked social media accounts shows young boys, known as "cubs of the caliphate", wrestling inside a giant ring encircled by black ISIS flags while an armed armed commander yells encouragement.
A later scene in the video, which is believed to have been filmed at an ISIS base in Iraq, shows the same commander beating the children with a stick as they move through an assault course, and then walking across their stomachs as they lay on the floor.
Other disturbing scenes in the propaganda video show the masked boys breaking tiles with their heads, practicing fighting moves and crawling through metal tubes as ISIS fighters fire rounds over their heads.
Professor Anthony Glees, the director of Buckingham University's Centre of Security and Intelligence Studies told the Sunday People that the video is designed to attract foreign fighters to join the jihadist group.
"Mothers elsewhere could be vulnerable, thinking their child could be a failure in Britain - or join IS and become a warrior," he told the news source. "This is sickening glorification of the brutalization of kids for IS. It is designed to appeal to mothers and fathers but children are also the target.'
ISIS, which seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate throughout the Middle East, is notorious for using 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.
Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism told the Daily Mail that training young jihadists is useful to senior ISIS fighters when they are trying to consolidate territory which is constantly under attack.
"Indoctrinating kids with ISIS fanaticism is not only the easiest population to indoctrinate but also produces new generations of ISIS believers and ultimately at some point fighters. This is the way you build a Caliphate," he told the news source.
"Their goal is to rebuild the Islamic societies they have conquered into a global comprehensive Islamist system that... takes over all aspects of society from garbage collection to teaching at the Madrassats [religious schools]."