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Daesh brainwashing children as young as three

While other three year-old boys were playing with their toys or having a cuddle with their mum and dad, a little boy named Hassan was living in a room full of weapons and suicide vests. His childhood had been ripped away from him by Daesh brainwashing. The nightmare began when little Hassan and his mother, Maryam were captured by the terrorist group in Syria and then sold at a street market to a Saudi emir.

The emir eagerly set about brainwashing the boy, teaching him to hit his mother. Maryam described how her son would copy everything the emir showed him and one day picked up a dagger and attempted to stab her in the back. When she tried to approach him, he would tell her to go away and raise his finger as if he were shooting her.

As Daesh watch their so-called Caliphate shrink and their fighters scatter and hide, they’ve resorted to increasingly sick and desperate measures to try to prove their strength. One of them is the recruitment of child soldiers. Maryam was terrified her son was being groomed to become a suicide bomber. Fortunately for Maryam and her son, people under Daesh are waking up to the reality of their deranged leaders. The wife of a militant helped them escape.

It’s going to take a long time for Hassan to recover from his ordeal. He clings to his mother, staring blankly into space, barely saying a word. When asked what the emir showed him, he makes a throat-slitting gesture.

Maryam’s pain is far from over, with her children still in Daesh captivity and the family having no money to buy them back. She received a video message that featured her eldest son, now 13 years old, in full Daesh combat uniform asking her to pay the equivalent of £21,000 to get him back.

“ISIS are always buying people and selling them at a higher price,” she said. “But I just don’t have the money. Two of my daughters have been taken by ISIS, too. I haven’t heard from them.” said Maryam.

Far from providing security and heroism as their propaganda makes out, Daesh is subjecting a whole generation to fear, violence and unhappiness. A disgusting manipulation of the innocence of children.

Of course, it’s not just the children in Daesh-controlled territories that are at risk.

Through the internet, the terror group reaches into our homes, extending its tentacles into our children’s minds. Their sick messaging and graphic images and videos featuring child soldiers are readily available to our own children here. We must protect our children from the risks of coming across this material. We must be vigilant and make sure our children understand the true nature of these sick individuals and their group.

For more information, please see our ‘where to turn’ page.