By Mark Ellis —
After ISIS took over his territory in Syria, 17-year-old Ibn Mesud* joined the Cubs of the Caliphate and was heavily pressured into taking a suicide mission — told his death would be painless and he would go straight to paradise.
A shocking new video, “The Glorious Martyrs of the Islamic State,” is based on an interview with Mesud in Turkey by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE).
“They took over our area,” Mesud recounts on the video. “They called for everyone to come to the mosques. They taught us about the Koran, about prayers and preached to us.”
Mesud admits he “was just a child…just a student.”
The ISIS fighters indoctrinated him and about 1500 other Syrian teens and pre-teens
about ISIS, its “accomplishments” in Iraq, and about ISIS being “righteous.”
“We will take you to fight with us,” they told their young recruits.
Mesud’s father is disabled and unable to work. Faced with the prospect of quitting school to financially support his brothers and sisters, he decided to accept the money offered to join ISIS.
At the outset, the young Cubs of the Caliphate pledged their allegiance to the sheikh and committed to fight for the Islamic State.
Mesud’s training involved religious lessons in the morning, then training in weaponry and fighting in the afternoon.
He noticed something unusual as time went by: the Cubs of the Caliphate were put on the front lines while the foreign fighters remained at ISIS’ headquarters.
One of the Cubs became a suicide bomber. Soon Mesud felt pressured toward martyrdom himself. “I was told, ‘Go [on a suicide mission] and we will take care of your family. You won’t feel death.’
Mesud’s trainer showed him an envelope containing a painkiller.
“Drink water with it and you won’t feel anything,” the man told him. “This mission will bring you closer to paradise. This is your opportunity to get to paradise faster.”
“But my dad is handicapped. I can’t blow myself up,” he replied.
His trainer decided to sweeten the deal. “We will marry you. We will offer you a slave, a pretty girl you can take as your bride.”
When Coalition forces began to bomb ISIS positions some of the child soldiers got scared and started to run away.
“ISIS was stopping them from escaping,” Mesud recounts on the video. When they found someone attempting to flee, they would put them in the battlefield on the front lines.
“If he becomes a martyr in battle, then so be it,” they said.
Some of the young soldiers were taken to Iraq to fight. “I refused to go,” Mesud says. “I decided to leave ISIS—to defect.”
He told the Sheikh he needed a temporary leave to visit his ailing father. Instead, he fled from Raqqa to a town near the Turkish border, where he was able to cross to safety.
In the video he advises young people to not be tricked by ISIS. “Don’t join ISIS!” he admonishes. Money isn’t everything.
“It’d be better to eat dirt that join ISIS,” he declares. “They are not righteous. People live in darkness under their rule.”
Mesud very likely has PTSD as a result of his traumatic experience. “The truth is: I am still suffering from what I have seen.”
He hopes God will allow him to forget those things and start a new life.
*name changed for security reasons
For more information about ICSVE, go here