Iraqi boys describe how ISIS indoctrinate children to become suicide bombers

(Reuters/Ako Rasheed)Iraqi security forces remove a suicide vest from a boy in Kirkuk, Iraq, August 21, 2016.

Iraqi boys who managed to escape from the Islamic State terror group have revealed how the militants indoctrinated children to become fighters and suicide bombers.

In 2014, nearly 10,000 Yazidis were killed or kidnapped by ISIS during its assault in northern Iraq, and hundreds of young Yazidi boys were captured and indoctrinated in one of the terror group's training camps.

Ahmed Ameen Koro was only 14 when the militants took over the northern town of Sinjar in the summer of 2014.

He was captured along with his brother and four cousins and taken to the IS-held town of Tal Afar, some 30 miles away, where they were kept in a school with other boys and teens.

In an interview with The Associated Press at the Esyan Camp in northern Iraq, he revealed that he is still having trouble sleeping at night.

"Even here I'm still very afraid. I can't sleep properly because I see them in my dreams," said Koro, who is now 17 years old.

Koro recounted that he once saw the militants dragging young girls from the arms of their mothers.

"I was very scared. I've never seen such a thing. They were all very big bearded men, they looked like monsters," he said. "My parents weren't with me and I was thinking about them, wondering what happened to them," he added.

When they were moved to Badoush Prison outside the IS stronghold of Mosul, he noticed that the boys would immediately fall asleep after eating the food brought by the militants. Koro believes that the militants put sleeping pills in their food.

Koro said that he was later sent to a two-month training facility in Tal Afar, where he underwent military training and Quran study. He and other children were taught how to shoot assault rifles, and they were shown videos teaching them how to use a suicide belt, use a grenade or behead an infidel.

"They were telling us if we were in a fight against the infidels ... we had to blow ourselves up and kill them all. They were telling us, 'You are not Yazidis anymore. You are one of us," he narrated.

At the Kabarto Camp, Akram Rasho Khalaf recounted how he was captured by ISIS when he was just 7 years old. When the militants took over his town of Khidir Sheikh Sipa in August 2014, he was hit by bullets and shrapnel on his abdomen and hand as he and his family tried to escape.

After they were captured, the militants separated Khalaf from his parents, and he has not seen them since.

Khalaf narrated that the jihadists often threw balls at the children's heads and would beat them if any of them cried in pain. Those who did not cry were praised and told that they would make good suicide bombers someday.

"They were telling us, 'When you grow up, you will blow yourself up, God willing,' and some of the kids said, 'We will not blow ourselves up,'" he said. "Then they asked us, 'Which one of you wants to go to paradise?' And the kids didn't know what to say," he continued.

Koro and his brother managed to escape from ISIS in May 2015, nine months after they were captured. Their cousin was recaptured during their escape attempt, but they hid in a mosque until nightfall and then fled with a small group of people escaping on foot.

Khalaf was set free two years after he was taken captive with the help of his uncle who borrowed $10,500 from relatives in Germany to pay for his ransom.

His uncle said that Khalaf is still suffering nightmares, anxiety and sleeplessness because he is still deeply affected by the time he spent in captivity.

"When I go to sleep I see Daesh in my dreams and they say, 'Come,'" said Khalaf. "And I get very scared and I wake up and I can't go back to sleep," he added.

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