Recent testimony from a former teenage ISIS fighter is providing further insight into the unusual training process that the Islamic State is using to prepare hundreds of children to join the group's military and police ranks. The youth's account also shows how children are being cruelly utilized once they complete the training.
As ISIS has posted much to its social media accounts bragging how it is training the "cubs of the Islamic State," a 15-year-old former jihadi, speaking under the pseudonym of "Yasir," told CNN's Arwa Damon earlier this week that ISIS' training of child fighters requires one month of separation from loved ones, and also includes intense religious indoctrination and deadly military exercises.
Additionally, Yasir's testimony highlights how ISIS is putting child fighters at direct risk of harm once they pass training and join the ranks by forcing them to stand guard while wearing suicide vests. more >>
Terror group ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is reportedly alive and has posted a new audio message where he's said that the jihadis will "not stop fighting" against the U.S.-led coalition powers. Al-Baghdadi was believed to have been wounded in an airstrike on a convoy of militants in Iraq last week.
"Even if only one soldier of them remained, they will never abandon fighting, because they defy humiliation and injustice," the voice in the audio recording says. "They will never abandon fighting, because they did not taste honor and dignity except by fighting. They will never abandon fighting. Indeed, they are triumphant. They will be triumphant even if only one man of them is left. They are triumphant and upon certainty of Allah's support for them."
CNN reported that the 17-minute audio message was spread around ISIS social media websites, but it can't be established with certainty if the man speaking who identified himself as al-Baghdadi is indeed the ISIS leader, or when the message was recorded. more >>
Despite the fact that Islamic State leaders have their eyes set on expanding the caliphate outside of Iraq and Syria, a recent poll surveying respondents from seven Arab nations and refugees in Syria found that ISIS is overwhelmingly unpopular among people there.
A telephone poll, conducted by the Arab opinion index team at the Qatar-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, surveyed respondents from Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestinian territory, and Syria (refugees) and found that 85 percent of its respondents view the Islamic State terrorist organization as "negative" or "negative to some extent." Only 11 percent of the respondents said they held "positive" or relatively positive views on ISIS.
The survey also found that nearly six in 10 respondents "strongly support" or "support" the U.S.-led coalition's aims to destroy ISIS, although 75 percent said they have "negative" or "negative to some extent" opinions about U.S. foreign policy in the Arab region. About one-third of the respondents said they either "strongly oppose" or "oppose" the international coalition's efforts. more >>
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat might have converted to Christianity before his death in 2004, suggested Christian writer and speaker RT Kendall, a close friend of his. Kendall revealed that Arafat wept while watching Mel Gibson's epic "The Passion of the Christ" a decade ago, and said that he would not be surprised to see his friend in heaven.
"It wouldn't surprise me to see him in heaven,' Kendall said in an interview with Premier. Christianity magazine. 'I'll tell you why. I prayed with him five times, anointed him with oil, I gave him a [salvation] prayer … I'm not saying I know that he's saved; I'm saying I wouldn't be surprised."
Kendall talked about how he initially met Arafat in 2002 during a visit to Israel and Palestinian territories. During the meeting, which went on for longer than planned, the two discussed the nature of Jesus — whether He died, was resurrected and ascended to heaven, as Christianity teaches, or whether He did not die, as the Quran suggests. more >>
Iraqi military officials said Tuesday that Iraqi forces have retaken control of the government headquarters and nearly three-quarters of the strategic oil town of Beiji, which is located about 155 miles north of Baghdad and houses Iraq's largest oil refinery.
However, it is unclear as to whether the Iraqi soldiers have yet retaken control of the the oil refinery, which was captured by ISIS militants over five months ago and lies on the outskirts of the town. The refinery accounts for nearly one-quarter of Iraq's oil and has the estimated capacity of producing 320,000 barrels of oil each day.
Al Jazeera reports that retaking control of the town will be key for Iraqi forces to establish a base to attack neighboring town of Tikrit, which was another town captured by ISIS fighters this past summer. more >>
Reports have emerged indicating that the Islamic State is planning to soon circulate its own form of currency in areas under its control, and plans to issue pure solid gold and silver gold dinar coins that it hopes will help devalue Western currencies.
As the British news website The Daily Mail reported on Monday, ISIS religious leaders recently announced to attendees of the group's controlled mosques that the organization will instate its own form of currency in an attempt to further solidify its caliphate.
The report states that the militants want to bring back and ancient form of the Islamic dinar, which were coins that was distributed in ancient Islamic societies that were first introduced in the year 634 AD under the caliphate of Uthman. more >>