Usaid Barho grew up living nothing like a Muslim extremist, but the 14-year-old Syrian boy told the ISIS militants controlling his town that he wanted to strap an explosive onto himself and become a suicide bomber.
But Barho, who was desperate to escape the militant group’s rule and had resisted brainwashing by ISIS to teach him that Shiites were bloodthirsty murderers, had other intentions. He walked up to the gate of a Shiite mosque with the bomb strapped to his body and unzipped his coat, showing the guards what he was wearing and surrendering to them.
Barho’s story was featured in an in-depth article from the New York Times, one that highlighted the lengths ISIS has gone to enlist children in their invasion of Iraq and Syria. Barho said that he was recruited by the Sunni extremists, and joined the group willingly after being subjected to brainwashing.
“They seduced us to join the caliphate,” he said days after surrendering, adding, “They planted the idea in me that Shiites are infidels and we had to kill them.”
The New York Times highlighted the lengths ISIS has gone to include children in their war.
“The wars in Syria and Iraq have set grim new standards for the exploitation and abuse of children. Thousands of them have been killed or maimed through indiscriminate bombings, in crossfire and, in some cases, executions. Young girls from minority groups, especially Yazidis in Iraq, have been captured as sex slaves by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Young boys have been given rifles and told to staff checkpoints or patrol neighborhoods — or have been recruited, as Usaid was, to become suicide bombers.
In the areas it controls in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has established centers for the military and religious training of children, in an effort to indoctrinate them and build a new generation of warriors.”
ISIS has been widely condemned for forcing children into battle, and for their widespread genocide against minority groups. In his Christmas message, Pope Francis condemned ISIS and prayed for an end to the suffering of people living there.
“I ask him, the Saviour of the world, to look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution.”
The fate of Usaid Barho is still not known, but the security guards he surrendered to said they do not want to see the boy face charges, saying that he is a victim of ISIS himself.
[Image via New York Times]