ISIS Glorifies The Death Of A 14-Year-Old Child Soldier

Abu Anas al-Ansari, a boy who became a terrorist at age 12, is being celebrated as the "youngest Islamic State martyr"

Screenshot of a video released by ISIS' Al-Hayat media wing.
Mar 08, 2016 at 12:19 PM ET

ISIS has eulogized their “youngest Islamic State martyr,” a boy allegedly named Abu Anas al-Ansari, who was killed before he turned 15. Posts on two ISIS forums on Monday showed what the terror group said was the dead body of the boy, described as a “warrior of the 23 mm cannon” and a star “cub of the Caliphate.”

Al-Ansari pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, at the ripe age of 12 before joining ISIS in 2014, the Islamic State said its online posts, which were discovered by Vocativ’s deep web analysts. The boy allegedly operated an anti-aircraft cannon in Syria. “His age didn’t surpass 14,” one post said, adding: “may Allah accept him.”

More The Uphill Battle To Saving ISIS’ Child Soldiers

In the past six months alone, a dozen child executioners have appeared in ISIS propaganda video, and one child participated in a public execution, according to a new report by the Quilliam Foundation, a London-based think tank. The Islamic State has also used kids as suicide bombers and human shields.

In January last year, an ISIS video showed a young boy executing two Russian agents. In July, a video depicted a child sawing off the head of an enemy outside of Palmyra, Syria. Later that month, ISIS’ official media wing in Iraq’s Dijla province released a video showing the group’s child soldiers talking directly into the camera. “Give me my weapon,” a young boy said in a video clip, grabbing a gun almost as long as his body. Later in the video, he fired the rifle.

ISIS uses child soldiers “in a manner more reminiscent of an authoritarian state than a violent extremist group, using tight control and strategic planning to indoctrinate children with its message of hatred and violence,” the Quilliam report says, noting that the terror group values kids as the most lethal fighters and considers them purer than grown men, and more blessed by God. “The current generation of fighters sees these children as better and more lethal fighters than themselves,” the report said, “because rather than being converted into radical ideologies, they have been indoctrinated into these extreme values from birth, or a very young age.”

ISIS trains children as young as ten years old in sharia law and advanced martial arts, and the children are quickly desensitized to violence, the report said. Because they are torn from their families to attend training camps at such young ages, they form incredibly strong bonds with their fellow trainees, who become their new families. Children have also been used as preachers to spread sharia law, and as spies and messengers.