Islamic State in West Africa Province, which is an offshoot of the Boko Haram, has reportedly released a video showing a 12-year-old child executing two Nigerian soldiers with an AK-47.
The 17-minute video, titled “Makers of Epic Battles,” carries the footage of ISWAP’s child soldier shooting to death two Nigerian soldiers, according to Sahara Reporters.
“There are no words to describe how awful it is,” Tomasz Rolbiecki, a researcher on the Islamic State’s attacks worldwide, wrote on Twitter after analyzing the video.
“In general, the video is mainly covering the attacks from ISWAP's spring campaign in northern Borno and Yobe, although there are also clips from southeastern and southwestern parts of Borno state,” the researcher was quoted as saying. “Most of the footage had been published in photo reports long before this video was released. Daesh has been doing it for years. However, there is also some new material.”
Terrorist groups, such as ISWAP, have killed tens of thousands of Christians in Nigeria and displaced millions in an attempt to discard Western influence and impose strict Islamic Sharia law, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern said, responding to the news about the video.
ISWAP often tries to radicalize those whom they have taken captive. If they are unable to, they might use them as slaves, suicide bombers or ransom them back to family and friends. Often, those who are taken do not ever return to their homes or families.
Last week, Nigeria’s army said it had killed the new leader of ISWAP, Malam Bako, in a military operation two weeks after announcing the death of the group's former head Abu Musab al-Barnawi, Reuters reported.
ISWAP, which split from the Boko Haram in 2016, has been fighting against the Nigerian armed forces for over a decade.
“If confirmed, Bako would be the fourth leader of an Islamist insurgent group in West Africa to die this year, after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in May, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) in August and al-Barnawi this month,” the newswire said.
However, Sahara Reporters noted, “The Nigerian army has repeatedly claimed that the insurgency has been largely defeated and frequently underplays any losses.”
The Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, has called its child soldiers “cubs of the Caliphate.”
In 2017, a 13-year-old boy, identified as Mohammed and former “cub,” shared that his uncle recruited him. “He took me to Sharia classes and then he told me: ‘Son, now you have to go to the training camp,’” he was quoted as saying at the time.
Mohammed was sent to Baiji, where IS and Iraqi government forces fought for the country’s largest oil refinery. “We had a car bomb. It was Abu Hudhaifa, a 14-year-old boy from Aleppo, who went in,” he recalled. “We attacked the Iraqi forces after the morning prayer. The driver of the car bomb blew himself up and we entered the refinery, but we did not find anyone. It was a trap: they had let us in to encircle us.”
He was among 100 fighters at the refinery, and only 30 escaped alive.
“One day, I saw a boy sitting alone. I asked him why he was acting like a robot,” Roueda Abbas, a teacher at a rehab center for ex-child soldiers, was quoted as saying. “He came next to me and said: ‘When I was with them, they beheaded people in front of my eyes. They cut hands and legs. Now I have no feelings. Even if you kill my father in front of me, I wouldn’t cry. I don’t have any feelings anymore.’”