A 14-year-old Syrian boy has given himself in to Iraqi guards wearing a vest full of explosives, The New York Times reports. The teenager, recruited by the “ISIL”, said that a mission to bomb a Shiite mosque was his only chance to escape militants.
Syrian Teenager Uses Suicide Bomber Vest to Escape “ISIL”Usaid Barho, 14, told a NYT reporter that he played soccer and dreamed of becoming a doctor. That was before he was recruited by the “ISIL” in Syria and forced to convert to extremist Shiite-hating beliefs.
The details were revealed after Barho recently approached guards at the gate of a Shiite mosque in Baghdad and told them: “I have a suicide vest, but I don’t want to blow myself up.” He then unzipped his jacket to show his bomb vest before surrendering himself. A plainclothes officer at the mosque snipped off the explosives. The incident was captured on cellphone video, with one officer yelling “Keep the people away!” The footage was posted on social media.
Barho said his surrender was the only way he could escape “ISIL” after he was recruited by Sunni extremists from a mosque in his hometown near Aleppo, Syria. “They planted the idea in me that Shiites are infidels and we had to kill them,” Barho told the Times. Stories of other children being recruited have hit the headlines. Just this month, a mother in Italy was disturbed after seeing pictures of her three-year-old son posted on “ISIL” forums. She claims her little one was kidnapped by her ex-husband, who left Italy to fight in the ranks of the “ISIL”.
The UN released a report in November based on over 300 interviews with men, women, and children who have fled or are still living in “ISIL”-controlled areas. The report condemns the “ISIL” for its recruitment of children, among other war crimes and atrocities.
The report says that “information reveals that “ISIL” prioritizes children as a vehicle for ensuring long-term loyalty, adherence to their ideology, and a cadre of devoted fighters that will see violence as a way of life.”
The report quotes al-Hasakah, one of the interviewees, who said: “I saw at least ten armed “ISIL” members aged 13-14 years old. These boys served as guards at “ISIL” headquarters and at checkpoints. They were armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades.”
It goes on to say that education is being used as a propaganda tool, with school curriculum amended to reflect ideological priorities and weapons training.
Witness reports said there are special youth training camps across areas under “ISIL” control. The so-called “Sharea” camp near Aleppo reportedly trains over 350 boys between the ages of five and 16 years for combat roles. Accounts describe children gathered for screenings of videos depicting mass executions of government soldiers.
In another instance, a group of 153 kidnapped Kurdish boys watched videos of beheadings and attacks. The boys were also subjected to daily instruction on militant ideology for a five-month period. Those who disagreed were punished with severe beatings. The boys were then returned to their Kurdish communities, where parents described fearing their sons being groomed to inject the “ISIL’s” worldview into their towns.
The report says that “by using, conscripting and enlisting children for active combat roles, the group is perpetuating abuses and war crimes on a massive scale in a systematic and organized manner.”