Iraq News

Outrage as ISIL uses Yazidi boys in Mosul suicide attack

By Khalid al-Taie

A screenshot from an 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' video posted online February 14th shows two Yazidi brothers before they carried out suicide car bombings against Iraqi troops in Mosul. [File]

A screenshot from an 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' video posted online February 14th shows two Yazidi brothers before they carried out suicide car bombings against Iraqi troops in Mosul. [File]

An "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) video -- which shows two young Yazidi brothers the group had kidnapped from Sinjar carrying out suicide attacks against Iraqi troops in Mosul -- has triggered shock and outrage.

The video, posted online February 14th, shows two boys from the village of Tal Qasab in Sinjar, believed to be aged 11 and 12, who identify themselves as Amjad "Abu Yousef al-Sinjari" and Asad "Abu al-Khattab".

ISIL attacked Yazidi areas in Sinjar , north-west of Mosul, in August 2014, massacring men and kidnapping thousands of women and children, while tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes.

This is the first time ISIL has announced it has used Yazidi children to carry out suicide attacks on its behalf.

In the video, the boys say they joined an ISIL camp in Syria and received "religious lessons", before their names were "registered in the list of suicide attackers".

After a few aerial shots, the video shows the moment the two brothers entered separate explosive laden vehicles and the moment they carried out their attacks.

'A dangerous sign'

ISIL's recruitment and brainwashing of the two boys is a "dangerous sign" that should push everyone to "take all necessary action to prevent something worse from happening", said Iraqi MP for Ninawa province Haji Kandour al-Sheikh.

"The readiness to die displayed [...] by the two brothers before carrying out the suicide attack reflects the heavy brainwashing they had been subjected to and how much it had affected them," al-Sheikh, who is a Yazidi, told Diyaruna.

"The two brothers are Yazidi children who had been kidnapped by ISIL after it overran Sinjar and appear to have been subjected to indoctrination and intense physical training in fighting and suicide attacks," he said.

"We have repeatedly warned of the risk that these kidnapped children, whose number is estimated in the hundreds, could become time bombs," he said. "We fear that more of them could be used to carry out such terrorist operations."

Al-Sheikh called on the government and the international community to take urgent action to find and rescue the children from the grip of ISIL.

Initially the kidnapped Yazidi women and children were believed to be in east Mosul, he said.

According to local informants, he added, ISIL transferred many of them to the west side of the city a few days after Iraqi forces launched the operation to liberate the neighbourhoods of east Mosul in October.

ISIL intends to transfer the hostages to the border area of al-Baaj, and from there to the Syrian city of al-Raqa, al-Sheikh said.

"The forces must monitor all dirt roads in order to prevent them from being smuggled out," he urged.

Urgent need to free kidnapped Yazidis

Yazidi journalist and activist Khadr al-Dumali expressed his anger and outrage over ISIL's use of the two brothers as suicide bombers.

"I expected it to happen one day," he told Diyaruna. "It was a matter of time."

"According to the official data on record, ISIL has kidnapped 6,314 Yazidi children and women, of which 1,510 male and female children and 2,040 women have so far been saved," he said.

"The rest, however, are still in ISIL's clutches and our information shows that the terrorists have recruited between 600 and 700 children aged 5 to 17," he said.

After kidnapping the children, the group "put them in special training camps in Mosul and Syria together with children of various [other] nationalities and ethnicities, taught them its extremist ideology, and forced them to submit to its orders and undergo extremely tough physical training", al-Dumali said.

Because ISIL constantly changes the places where it holds the remaining kidnapped children and women, he added, it has been difficult to rescue them.

"Before the fighting in Mosul began, we had confirmed information that the militants were holding more than 200 women and children in the east side," he said. "But after the liberation of the neighbourhoods in that side ended, only 11 kidnapped Yazidi women had been found."

Al-Dumali asked the liberating forces to "exert their utmost efforts to save them from being exploited by the terrorists ".

Khairi Bouzani, general director for Yazidi affairs in the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, said he was shocked when he watched the video and fears other Yazidi children could be used to carry out attacks.

ISIL might succeed in brainwashing some of these children, he told Diyaruna, while the group might force others to "become fighters or suicide bombers".

"This is what I truly fear," he said.

Bouzani expressed hope that ISIL's retreat and dwindling areas of control in Mosul will make it easier for security forces to find and rescue the children.

"I hope there is an opportunity to save them," he said.

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