15-year-old boy reveals how Isis brainwashes children into becoming suicide bombers

Mahmoud Ahmed says he knew attacking the sports stadium in Kirkuk was 'wrong' but was told it was an order by an Isis commander

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 18 December 2016 18:17 GMT
Suspected child suicide bomber stripped of explosives belt in Iraq

A would-be child suicide bomber who was ordered to attack a sports stadium in Iraq has told of how he was trained to kill at a specialist Isis camp for child jihadis.

Mahmoud Ahmed was stopped by police near the stadium in August in the Kurdish-dominated city of Kirkuk wearing a suicide vest following two other successful attacks earlier that day.

The 15-year-old is now at a juvenile detention centre in Iraq, awaiting trial for terrorism charges, where he detailed his radicalisation at the hands of his Isis captors under the supervision of Kurdish intelligence agents.

Footage from the incident showed the shocked, weeping and distressed boy – who looks young for his age – being stripped of his suicide vest while surrounded by police.

He told Sky News he was indoctrinated with Isis’ warped brand of Islam and taught how to use deadly weapons.

He said: “They taught us how to use a Kalashnikov and a PKC machine gun and then transferred us to Hawija.

“There were four older men who would teach us about heaven and stuff like that.

“Twenty-four hours a day they'd teach us about this stuff. There were 60 of us born from 2002 onwards.

“They would scare us and would show videos of beheadings and stuff like that.”

He said he knew what they were training to do was “wrong” in the camp but when he tried to reason with his handler he was told it was “an order from an Isis commander”.

Kurdish intelligence officials said thousands of children in Iraq and Syria were currently being used by Isis as suicide bombers on the front lines – some of them are as young as nine-years-old.

Lahur Talabany, the director of the Zanyari Agency – the intelligence service for the Kurdish region government – said Isis was using children because they were less likely to be suspected as suicide bombers and were more impressionable.

He said: “We knew for the past year-and-a-half they've been looking into children and recruiting children and putting them through these kinds of programmes.

“They are very vulnerable it is much easier to turn a child into a suicide bomber than a grown up.”

A report released earlier this year found that the number of children being sent into battle could increase as Isis is pushed out of its territory by US-backed rebels.

The Combating Terrorism Centre (CTC) in New York said fleeing parents reported their children being sent home from terror training centres with Caucasian dolls in orange jumpsuits to behead as “homework”.

Isa Dare and an unidentified Isis militant believed to be a British teenager in a propaganda video released in February 2016

Children frequently feature in Isis’ propaganda videos.

One, London-born Isa Dare who was taken to Syria by his Muslim convert mother Khadijah Dare in 2012, was shown appearing to blow up a car with three prisoners inside in a video released in February.

He was shown saying: “We will kill the kuffars (infidels) over there” while wearing military fatigues and an Isis headband.

The research of the group’s social media channels by the CTC between January 2015 and January 2015 found at least 89 child bombers have been killed.

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