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'Next Generation' Stars In IS Terror-Training Video Of 'Caliphate Cub'

  • Joanna Paraszczuk

A screen grab from a video on the Facebook page of an Islamic State (IS) militant from Kazakhstan, Abu Aisha al-Kazakhi (aka Artyom Andreyev), shows a young child in military-style training.

A screen grab from a video on the Facebook page of an Islamic State (IS) militant from Kazakhstan, Abu Aisha al-Kazakhi (aka Artyom Andreyev), shows a young child in military-style training.

A small child crawls commando-style under barbed wire, shouting "God is Great!" as his Islamic State (IS) "trainers" fire shots at the ground inches in front of his face.

The boy at the terrorist training camp in the shocking, 34-second video appears to be under the age of 10. He has straight, roughly shoulder-length hair and is dressed in military fatigues.

It is the latest instance of Russian-speaking IS militants going beyond merely dressing up their tots to show devotion to the radical Islamist group, and actually instructing them in the ways of warfare.

The clip was shared on the Facebook page of an IS militant from Kazakhstan, Abu Aisha al-Kazakhi, on October 14. The boy looks similar in age, size, and appearance to Abu Aisha's son Abdrakhman, though his face is never seen -- and Abu Aisha deleted an initial Facebook comment in which he suggested the child was his.

But over the past few months Abu Aisha, who also goes under the name Artyom Andreyev, has posted a number of videos and photographs of Abdrakhman being trained and indoctrinated as one of the "next generation" of IS militants.

Abdrakhman, who is under 10, has been pictured dressed in military fatigues, brandishing various weapons and repeating pro-IS slogans.

In one video, Abdrakhman is shown holding a handgun and yelling praise to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In another photograph, the young child is standing next to his elder sister and Abu Aisha's daughter, a small girl of about 10. He is wielding what looks like a hunting knife.

A third photograph shows Abdrakhman standing outside a juice bar, apparently in Mosul. The child is dressed in military fatigues and is holding a gun, probably a toy weapon.

Abdrakhman in fatigues outside a Mosul juice bar

Abdrakhman in fatigues outside a Mosul juice bar

'IS Babies'

Dressing babies and toddlers as fighters has emerged as a trend among Russian-speaking IS militants, who are seeking to show their devotion to the IS group.

But photos and videos posted on the personal social-media accounts of IS fighters like Abu Aisha reveal an even more disturbing trend of parents training their children to think and fight like adult militants.

Abu Aisha, who has maintained several accounts on Facebook and the Russian social-networking site VKontakte, has posted about how he wants his son to be brought up in IS's violent interpretation of Islam.

In June, Abu Aisha vowed in a post on his now-deleted VKontakte account that he would raise his two children in the "Islam and the Islamic State."

Apart from Abu Aisha's obvious attempts to train and militarize his small son, there is ample evidence -- not just from official IS propaganda but also from material shared by individual militants -- that ethnic Kazakh children are undergoing training in IS camps in Syria and Iraq.

A video uploaded by Abu Aisha last month of adult Kazakh IS militants closes with footage of a group of Kazakh children and toddlers sitting together on a mat. One of the children is undergoing physical training, doing push-ups as the others look on.

And an IS video released late last year showed a group of Kazakh children undergoing military and ideological training in Syria or Iraq.

Child 'Martyrs'

In addition to training his own small son to be a militant, Abu Aisha has praised other Central Asian fathers who have allowed their teenage sons to fight -- and die -- on the battlefield alongside IS.

In a post on a now-deleted VKontakte account in May, Abu Aisha lauded a militant from Kyrgyzstan who came to Iraq with his wife and five children and whose 15-year-old son had been killed in battle.

"Brothers, such fathers who sacrifice their sons on the path of Allah are very rare," Abu Aisha wrote.

From Atyrau To Mosul, Via Istanbul

Abu Aisha claims to be from Atyrau, Kazakhstan's main Caspian Sea port. He says he is 30 years old and stationed with his children in Mosul, where he is seeking another wife.

It is not clear exactly how long Abu Aisha has been in IS-controlled Iraq, but his posts and photographs suggest he has been in Mosul for at least a year and was in Syria previously.

He described in a September 6 Facebook post how he crossed into Syria after first flying to Istanbul with his wife and children. There, he met a prearranged contact and was taken to an "IS apartment" where there were around 15 other new recruits of different nationalities.

The Turkish police raided the apartment, Abu Aisha wrote, but they only arrested one man who did not have a passport.

The rest, including Abu Aisha, crossed into Syria soon afterward.

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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