ISIS has released a horrific new propaganda video showing dozens of young fighters, dubbed "Cubs of the Caliphate," declaring their ambition to become "martyrs" for Islam and participating in violent training exercises.
Vocativ reports that the 13-minute video was released late Tuesday by ISIS' Deir e-Zour province in Syria and has since circulated hundreds of times on ISIS social media channels.
In the video, the children - all under the age of 16 - are shown studying in an ISIS-approved religious institute. One young boy tells the camera he wants to "become a martyr to terrorize the enemies and kill them," and to follow in the path of his brother who was also killed fighting for ISIS.
Children are also seen volunteering for the notorious religious police known as Hisbah, and shown correcting other children who aren't properly following IS' stringent rules. One child is shown chiding other boys, telling them to put their clothes on before going swimming, and in another scene, a young boy orders an elderly man to grow his beard.
At the end of the video, the young boys are shown learning how to use automatic rifles, fighting in battles, and standing beside dead bodies.
"They will be the generation to conquer Damascus, Baghdad, Jerusalem, Mecca, Medina, Dabiq, Rome and Andalusia," the narrator says at the end.
The propaganda film also decries Middle Eastern countries where children "dream about becoming a minister, a member of parliament, a judge or a pilot" and criticizes parents who play a role in corrupting their children" by sending them to international schools or encouraging them to take part in reality talents show.
ISIS has a well-documented history of recruiting children into its ranks and enlisting them in brutal acts, and has long made clear its intent to raise the next generation of jihadists, calling them the "cubs of the caliphate," CNN notes. In a recent publication of their English language magazine Dabiq, it encourages mothers to sacrifice their sons for the self-proclaimed Islamic state.
"As for you, O mother of lion cubs. ... And what will make you know what the mother of lion cubs is? She is the teacher of generations and the producer of men," the article reads.
In February, a study published in the CTC Sentinel found that SIS is increasingly employing children to carry out acts of terrorism, as there are currently 1,500 male children serving ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The cases of 89 children eulogized by ISIS in the past 13 months were documented in the study, which found that most of them died in violent ways: 39% died detonating a vehicle born IED device and 33% were killed as foot soldiers. Some 4% killed themselves while committing mass casualty attacks against civilians, and 6% died as propagandists embedded with brigades.
The study also found that child soldiers are seemingly treated no differently than adult soldiers by the terrorist group.
In August, John Horrigan, co-author of a forthcoming book "Small Arms: Children & Terrorism," told NPR that children who refuse to participate in jihadist activity are often executed by the terrorist group.
He said: "There are numerous accounts of children who failed at training or who miss their parents too much and decided that, you know, this really wasn't for them. In some cases, in many cases in fact, those children were severely beaten and, in some cases, even executed. This is really all about providing points of no return. The children at a point here really don't have a choice. And it is fundamentally - this entire activity is based on coercion."