The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) on Wednesday released a new video that appeared to show a child speaking in an American accent to camera about the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
The boy names himself as Yousef and says he is 10-years-old. Speaking in an American accent, he adds that he moved to ISIS-held territory two years ago with his mother and that his father was a U.S. soldier who fought the "mujahideen," or holy warriors, in Iraq. He does not provide details about his location or where he previously lived in the U.S.
The State Department had not responded to a Newsweek request for comment.
He says he has become good friends with another child, 7-year-old Abdullah from the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, in the region of Iraq that ISIS overran in August 2014, slaughtering thousands of members of the Yazidi sect that it considers to be a devil-worshipping cult.
The video proceeds to show Abdullah speaking to the screen, saying that ISIS took him with them when they "liberated Sinjar." Abdullah and Yousef are then shown washing each other with water.
It also features show Yousef speaking about how the "war has just begun" against coalition nations, and he is seen with an ISIS fighter and bearing what appears to be an automatic weapon.
The group released the seven-minute video, entitled “This Fertile Nation," on YouTube and its affiliated channels on social media.
U.S. nationals have appeared in ISIS’s propaganda videos before but this appears to be the first time that the group has put an American child in front of the camera. It has previously used a British child, named as Isa, in its propaganda videos. His mother Grace took him to Syria, leaving London to marry a Swedish jihadi named Abu Bakr. It showed the child firing a kalashnikov.
The radical Islamist group has used children in its propaganda output, who they refer to as "cubs," as part of its strategy to both shock western audiences, but to also attract new recruits to its ranks. It has shown children as part of training camps in Iraq, as well as children supposedly executing several alleged spies, by both shooting and the detonation of devices.
As it imposed its radical brand of Islam on the populations it took under its control, it also forced a Sharia curriculum on children, educating them in their own belief system from an early age. Experts have warned that the presence of young children within the ranks of ISIS and their exposure to its beliefs could create a generational threat to western societies.
The U.S.-led coalition bombing the jihadist group in Iraq and Syria has made targeting its propaganda teams a priority because of the impact its media output has had in spreading its radical Islamist ideology across social media channels and boosting the recruitment of foreign fighters.
In March, the coalition said it had killed a top leader in the group’s propaganda machine, and several of his associates, during an airstrike in western Iraq. Ibrahim Al-Ansari served as an “important ISIS leader,” the coalition said. Officials said the men had a key role in “brainwashing…young children.”
Reports emerged from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul last month that women in the ranks of ISIS were using their children as decoys to commit suicide bombings against the Iraqi forces that would eventually liberate the city from ISIS control after three years of occupation.
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