Islamic State Buries Children Alive
By Robin Wright
By Robin Wright
Just when you thought Islamic State could be no crueler, a United Nations report charges that the extremist group has buried children alive, crucified some and beheaded others.
The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child also reports that Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has abducted and sold children as slaves, dispatched them as suicide bombers, and deployed them as human shields at sites vulnerable to U.S.-led air strikes.
“We have had reports of children, especially children who are mentally challenged, who have been used as suicide bombers, most probably without them even understanding,” said Renate Winter of the U.N. watchdog agency. Islamic State also exploits children displaced, orphaned or living on the streets as a result of the strife.
“The scope of the problem is huge,” Ms. Winter told a press briefing Wednesday.
Children as young as eight have been recruited as soldiers for the Islamic State. Boys as young as 12 have been recruited as bomb-makers and guards. Last month, the group released a video that showed a young boy, believed to be a foreign fighter from Central Asia, executing two unidentified men.
Since it seized large chunks of Iraq and Syria last year, the Islamic State has bragged on social media about children in its virtual army. It has released videos and photos of children holding automatic weapons during training or in formation.
The U.N. report, compiled by 18 independent experts, warns that the most vulnerable category are children of minorities, such as the Yazidis. Islamic State has engaged in “systematic killing” of minorities, including several cases of mass executions of boys. The report also states that some children have been beheaded, crucified or buried alive.
Now in control of an area about the size of Indiana, Islamic State has engaged in systematic sexual enslavement of abducted children in its territory as well. Kids are sometimes detained in makeshift prisons and subjected to rape. Others are sold at markets with price tags affixed to them, the report said. One of the makeshift detention centers is the former Badoush Prison outside Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.
Islamic State is not the only party in violation of several international treaties. The U.N. report also notes that Iraqi militias battling Islamic State have recruited underage fighters, while the Free Syrian Army has pressured refugee youths to join its ranks.
The problem of child soldiers dates to ancient times. But Islamic State is setting savage new standards for the 21st century. Its barbarity truly knows no bounds.