A Cub of the Caliphate’s Jihad

72 – A Cub Of The Caliphate’s Jihad

Anne Speckhard & Ardian Shajkovci

A Cub of the Caliphate’s Jihad is the 72nd counter narrative video in the ICSVE Breaking the ISIS Brandseries. It features fifteen-year-old Syrian, ISIS Cub of the Caliphate, Ibn Omar who was interviewed in November 2015 in southern Turkey by Anne Speckhard and Ahmet S. Yayla.It was produced and edited by Zack Baddorf and our ICSVE team. This counter narrative video highlights the ways in which ISIS cynically manipulated the youth of the Cubs of the Caliphate into taking suicide missions and how civilians living under ISIS were harmed.

Ibn Omar joined the Cubs of the Caliphateafter ISIS entered his area, believing that he would gain a salary and benefit from them.  He didn’t tell his family, but simply ran off to join them.  Although ISIS successfully brainwashed Ibn Omar into their ideology, convincing him to take a suicide mission, his experience with them was overwhelmingly negative. Ibn Omar was saved from his suicide mission by his family who learned of it when he was allowed a home-leave visit before carrying it out. Ibn Omar’s parents sent him to southern Turkey to save him from the group. 

Reflecting back on his experiences inside ISIS, Ibn Omar states that the first cracks in his view of them came when ISIS fighters came to stay with them in the camp and shared videos of ISIS activities they had on their phones.  In these video clips, Ibn Omar saw that ISIS bombings killed not only the enemies of ISIS, but many innocent Syrians as well. He explains, “After we watched these video clips, we defected from [ISIS]. [If I hadn’t seen what ISIS did to civilians,] I wouldn’t have left them.” Angered over the impunity ISIS enjoyed at the time, he complains, “Those who did bad things, no one will touch them.”

Invoking the names of Allah, Ibn Omar continues with a warning to youth who might also be tricked into believing ISIS lies, “In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent, and peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Prophet and all the Messengers. I tell the children of the world that I was with ISIS for five months. I suffered and many of my friends died before my eyes. This is not jihad. This is all lies. No one will benefit [from ISIS].”

He explains how ISIS used children to carry out suicide bombings. “They bring children. Fifteen of my friends died. They blew themselves up. I hated myself but I could not defect from them. They bring children. They give them pills. They force them to swear allegiance  and set the [bomb] trigger to go blow themselves up without the kids knowing anything.”

He warns youth, “I tell the children of the world not to join [ISIS]. Don’t even look at them. Anything good you hear about the Islamic State is all lies. I stayed five months with them and did not see any good. It’s all lies. There is no jihad in this. Nobody knows if he is going to Paradise or anywhere else. I tell every child in the world: Don’t swear allegiance to ISIS. Don’t join them, because they are infidels.”

Discussion Questions:

What do you feel watching this video?

Do you believe Ibn Omar is telling the truth of his experiences inside ISIS?

What do you think of ISIS manipulating children into suicide missions? 

What do you think of ISIS giving them pills before driving a bomb-laden car?

Why are children increasingly being indoctrinated and trained in the use of violence by violent extremist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram?

Do you believe that sending children into suicide missions (including families together, as was the recent case of a family of six that launched suicide attacks in Indonesia) serves to also increase media attention to a terrorist group?

What can be done to help children and minors who have experienced years of indoctrination into jihadi militancy (including suicide missions)?

Do you think this is a legitimate Islamic jihad that ISIS wages?

Do you believe ISIS could make a fair and legitimate state?

Islamic Scriptures Related to this Video

Using children as suicide bombers is totally immoral according to Islamic teachings. Children in Islam are cherished and should be protected by the adults, versus becoming a target of death. Likewise, suicide is also not permitted in Islam.

Concerning using children as soldiers, in Islamic history there is recorded the story of the battle of Uhud (taking place near a mountain in the area of Medina). At that time the Prophet (PBUH) needed fighters badly, as the Muslims were too weak and outnumbered, and this is what happened as narrated by one of the Companions who was a child at that time:

Ibn Omar (the son of the third caliph) said, ‘I offered myself to the Prophet (to be a fighter) when I was 14-years-old and he sent me back (refused to take me as a fighter) and (a year, later when he was 15,) I offered myself on the year of the Ditch (a famous war when Muslims dug a ditch around Medina to keep the enemy away) and he accepted to take me.

Based on this story and others, Islamic scholars say that a child cannot be a fighter until he reaches the age of manhood or puberty and has the physical ability to carry a weapon, otherwise he would be regarded as offspring who are to be protected. In earlier times 15 years and older could be considered men, but we see according to this story, 14 clearly was not. So we also see that, Ibn Omar, who was 14 and younger when ISIS was trying to use him to commit suicide in their behalf should have been protected. Likewise, all the other children they tricked into suicide missions should have been protected.

Had ISIS been good Muslims and taking into account the longer periods of adolescence we observe in modern times, and also harking back to Islamic scriptures and traditions of centuries ago—which ISIS claims they follow; they would never have directed him at age 13 and 14, and other children, even younger, to fight and die for them.

Timed transcript of A Cub of the Caliphate’s Jihad

IBN OMAR

15-year-old Syrian

Former ISIS Child Soldier

The emir of the camp told us that other members from another camp will come and stay with us for a few days until another camp is built for them nearby our camp.

We used to sit with the new soldiers and talk to them.

We would watch video clips on their phones.

In the videos, people would say, ‘My sons are dead.’

‘My wife, my brother and my sister are dead and they had no affiliation [with ISIS].’

After we watched these video clips, we defected from [ISIS].

[If I hadn’t seen what ISIS did to civilians,]I wouldn’t have left them.

Those who did bad things no one will touch them. After that, I left.

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent,

and peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Prophet and all the Messengers.

I tell the children of the world that I was with ISIS for five months.

I suffered and many of my friends died before my eyes.

This is not jihad. This is all lies.

They bring people to swear allegiance and people will be slaughtered before their

eyes. No one will benefit [from ISIS].

They bring children. Fifteen of my friends died.

They blew themselves up. I hated myself but I could not defect from them.

I tell the children of the world not to join [ISIS]. Don’t even look at them.

Anything good you hear about the Islamic State is all lies.

I stayed five months with them and did not see any good.

They bring children. They give them pills.

They force them to swear allegiance  and set the [bomb] trigger to go blow themselves up without the kids knowing anything.

It’s all lies. There is no jihad in this.

Nobody knows if he is going to Paradise or anywhere else.

I tell every child in the world: Don’t swear allegiance to ISIS.

Don’t join them, because they are infidels.

The Truth Behind the Islamic State

Sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism www.ICSVE.org

See more at www.TheRealJihad.org

About the authors:

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D., is Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. She has interviewed over 600 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including in Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Former Soviet Union and the Middle East. In the past two years, she and ICSVE staff have been collecting interviews (n=101) with ISIS defectors, returnees and prisoners, studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism, their experiences inside ISIS, as well as developing the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project materials from these interviews. She has also been training key stakeholders in law enforcement, intelligence, educators, and other countering violent extremism professionals on the use of counter-narrative messaging materials produced by ICSVE both locally and internationally as well as studying the use of children as violent actors by groups such as ISIS and consulting on how to rehabilitate them. In 2007, she was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to 20,000 + detainees and 800 juveniles. She is a sought after counterterrorism expert and has consulted to NATO, OSCE, foreign governments and to the U.S. Senate & House, Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Health & Human Services, CIA and FBI and CNN, BBC, NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, CTV, and in Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, London Times and many other publications. She regularly speaks and publishes on the topics of the psychology of radicalization and terrorism and is the author of several books, including Talking to Terrorists, Bride of ISIS, Undercover Jihadi and ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. Her publications are found here: https://georgetown.academia.edu/AnneSpeckhard and on the ICSVE website http://www.icsve.org Follow @AnneSpeckhard

Ardian Shajkovci, Ph.D., is the Director of Research and a Senior Research Fellow at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). He has been collecting interviews with ISIS defectors and studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism as well as training key stakeholders in law enforcement, intelligence, educators, and other countering violent extremism professionals on the use of counter-narrative messaging materials produced by ICSVE both locally and internationally. He has also been studying the use of children as violent actors by groups such as ISIS and how to rehabilitate them. He has conducted fieldwork in Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, mostly recently in Jordan and Iraq. He has presented at professional conferences and published on the topic of radicalization and terrorism. He holds a doctorate in Public Policy and Administration, with a focus on Homeland Security Policy, from Walden University. He obtained his M.A. degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University and a B.A. degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Dominican University. He is also an adjunct professor teaching counterterrorism and CVE courses at Nichols College. 

Anne Speckhard

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine and has also taught the Psychology of Terrorism for the Security Studies Department in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is the Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism. Dr. Speckhard has been working in the field of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the 1980’s and has extensive experience working in Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.