The Islamic State, known as ISIS, is infamously known for using brutal tactics against both civilians and those who fight them on the battlefield. Now they are exploiting children as part of their propaganda strategy.
As an example of their strategy in action, a video surfaced Thursday morning of ISIS sending out a boy strapped with a suicide belt. According to CBS News, he surrendered to Iraqi authorities, who attempted to defuse the bomb.
"Iraqi media report the boy had been recruited by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, to carry out a suicide attack at a shrine in Baghdad," CBS News wrote.
Sources told CBS News that the 13-year-old boy is from Syria. Based on what was shown in the video, Iraqi officials appeared to successfully take the bomb out in a safe manner.
The video is one of many examples of how ISIS forces children to do its dirty work. According to Damien Sharkov of Newsweek, another video showed an ISIS instructor training children for combat, complete with beatings and shooting lessons.
"Yes, Dawlatul-Islāmiyyah (Islamic State) is training children. Watch and learn," self-professed ISIS fighter Qa-qa al-Baritani wrote on Twitter.
The self-identifed ISIS fighter added that "We are the army of the Khilāfah and our opposition is the camp of disbelief," noting that "there is no camp in-between."
Sharkov reported that the video, entitled "Blood of Jihad 2," featured footage of boys around the age of 10 who received "training" from their instructor, who punched and kicked each pupil and broke sticks over their heads while being forced to assume the press up position, later kicking them in the stomach.
Charlie Winter, a researcher for the anti-radicalization think tank the Quilliam Foundation, said that the disturbing video is a striking example of ISIS's indoctrination campaign.
"Islamic State and ISIS before it have shown they have kids in ideological camps before and there has been evidence that this has included military training," Winter said. "However, I have never seen footage like kids being kicked in the stomach by their instructors [before]."
Winter told Newsweek that ISIS openly admitting to training child soldiers could be a diversion tactic, with the aim of deflecting to children's rights instead of the strategically important ISIS camps where actual adult fighters train.
"They talk about child soldiers with pride in the Islamic State. They know it will outrage Westerners," Winter said.
Winter added that ISIS may have released the footage to show how powerful its image and indoctrination are to the world.
"It plays into the whole pseudo state image they are trying to promote," Winter said. "They are saying they have an administration. They are trying to show that the Islamic State is going to be around for a while."
According to Newsweek, ISIS's online propaganda strategy has been widely criticized, including from surprising sources such as the Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda.