We did an interview with a 13-years-old child named Ahmed Sahleh Hassan from a town in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor who had been recruited into Daesh ranks before being sent back to his family recently.
He tells his story by saying the following: “On Sunday, December 21, 2017, there was a Sharia session held in a mosque in that town for the children whose ages ranged from 9 to 16 years. We were around 25 children and all of us attended those sessions regularly during which ‘Sheikh Abu Obaidah’, who was a Daesh affiliate from the Gulf, would give us lessons on Sharia from the end of the Maghreb prayer to the Ishaa. The lessons were about pillars of Islam, faith and stories of the followers of the prophet. He was always keen on encouraging us to perform jihad and anything related to fighting and to show enmity towards anyone not holding the same ideology.
In each week, two Daesh members from the Media Department would come to the mosque, where we were undergoing the sessions, and broadcast footage of Daesh battels in both of Syria and Iraq.”
He adds, ‘I watched three Daesh video releases in that mosque. In a day, after the a video about the battle in Mosul ended, the Sheikh Abu Obaidah said, ‘Who among you want to pledge his allegiance to the organization and would go to undergo a Sharia session and military training for 50 days”.
The child says, ‘I raised my hands, along with more than 30 children. At 8.00 pm we were transported by car to a Daesh headquarter in that town. In the early morning, we were sent to their headquarters in Al-Bukamal in eastern Deir Ezzor, where we met more than 100 children and we were separated into different groups, each of which consisted of 5. Then, each group was sheltered in a separate room in that headquarter which consisted of three floors and many rooms.
A daily schedule was distributed to us. It consisted of three daily lessons which started after the dawn prayer (memorization lesson), Duhr prayer (Monotheism lessons), Maghreb prayer ( creed and fiqh issues) and then we would sleep after the Ishaa prayer.
We were divided into groups, each of which consisted of 30 children. We were supervised by the Sheikh Abu Baraa Tunissi, and other four members in charge of controlling and managing our rooms. With respects to food, there was a kitchen from which food was distributed to all of us. Each of us would go to the kitchen with an issued card to obtain food.
There was also a big park where we would go to in the afternoon. We were not allowed to leave the headquarter for any reasons, even if some of us felt sick, they would bring a doctor to treat him. We were also barred from communicating with our parents or asking about the location of the headquarter. We were not also permitted to speak loudly and the violators would be flogged.
The Sheikh Abu Baraa said that we would remain in that headquarter for around 20 days and then deployed to a training camp.
Ahmed ends the interview by saying, ‘I, and other hundreds of child recruits, would like to return to our parents because life in that camp is like suicide. We must wake up early and eat little to stay alive. Sometimes, those who do not mesmerize quickly or fail to answer questions related to the lessons are beaten by the organization. We are not allowed to return to our homes, unless we are flogged for 80 times in front of all the groups.”
“I am now on a 5-day vacation to see my family and I do not know what awaits me once I am back to that headquarter. It is all in God’s hands.”