Amjad and Asaad are from Shingal. Only four or five of their family members have survived the genocide. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Of the 35 family members of two Yezidi boys who appear in an ISIS propaganda video, only four or five have survived the genocide, the boys’ cousin told Rudaw.
The two boys are Amjad and Asaad from Shingal; they are brothers aged about 15, based on documents provided to Rudaw in the camp where their cousin lives. They appeared in an ISIS propaganda video released earlier this week, denouncing their ancestral religion and marching with smiles on their faces to what looks like a suicide mission – driving car bombs.
Their parents and tens of others of their family members have been killed by ISIS.
“There were 35 people in their family. Only four or five of them survived,” their cousin Mirza Ezdin told Rudaw in Sharya Camp for displaced Yezidis in Duhok, while showing photos on his mobile phone of the two boys in their village, enjoying normal lives before ISIS arrived in August 2014.
“It is an enormous atrocity that befell them, and I believe if they were in a normal situation, none of these would have happened,” he said in reference to the genocide campaign begun by ISIS against Yezidis in Shingal two and a half years ago.
The head of the Yezidi affairs office in the Kurdistan Region, Khairi Botani, estimated there are 1,000 similar cases of children kidnapped by the extremist group. ISIS turned the young children into so-called “cubs of the caliphate,” an army of brainwashed children, indoctrinated in the radical group’s ideology. Botani described them as “time bombs.”
For the Yezidi have already endured so much, the video has deepened their wounds. ISIS propaganda is tarnishing their beloved memories of the boys.
“This is one the biggest shocks we have been living since yesterday,” Saud Misto, the camp manager said, as he expressed a sense of abandonment a day after they were notified about the video.
The boys trained by ISIS are firstly security issues as the video made clear, but underneath is the story of children who were robbed of their lives, forced to embrace death itself.
"These children are actually brainwashed and so far 10 of them have been sent to Germany in accordance with a joint program between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the German government to receive physiological treatment in order to bring them back to their normal lives," Botani said, commenting on the video.
"To our knowledge, more than 1,000 Yezidi children are being trained by ISIS. They indoctrinate them in the Islamic Sharia and Jihad, theoretically and practically. And they also teach them the means of killing and how to carry out suicide attacks practically," he added.
Two Yezidi boys appeared in the 30-minute-long video, speaking in Kurdish. In the video, they recalled when they were in Shingal, saying that they had been living in ignorance and worshiping Satan, but after studying under ISIS they converted to Islam and registered their names as suicide bombers.
The propaganda video ends with footage of two apparent car bombs, reportedly being driven by the two boys. It is not clear as to who they targeted and where it took place.
Botani urged the international community to help return these children escape and “to normal life.”