The Islamic State (IS) militant group is intensifying its ambitions to indoctrinate children into its brutal regime at an early age by opening English language schools for the children of foreign fighters in its de-facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
Terrorism monitor SITE Intelligence Group reported on a flyer that is allegedly being distributed by IS fighters and is addressed to the "attention [of] English speaking muhajiroon" — referring to non-Syrian jihadist "immigrants."
"By the grace of Allah we have opened schools for English speaking children," the flyer reads. It also details the times and days the schools — with one for boys and one for girls — will be open, and even a basic map of the facilities' layout.
The children will allegedly take classes on the style of Islamic law practiced by IS, religious studies, math, and English.
The flyers emerged the same week IS released a propaganda video of the training of the "cubs" of its caliphate, which shows young boys dressed in fatigues and black headbands performing synchronized drills at a camp in Raqqa.
In the video, the boys — some of which appear as young as 4 or 5 years old — speak in on-camera interviews, and one boy is shown washing his face with clean drinking water. Since launching its violent takeover of land across Syria and Iraq this summer, IS has sought to advertise its ability to run as a legitimate state by providing public services such as education, food, electricity, water, and other ministrations.
The flyer and video are continuations of a campaign to militarize local youth at an early age. VICE News has reported on previous videos of schools where children are reportedly taught to kill, and images of children attending schools in Iraq's Kirkuk province.
The group's relationship with the children of its Sunni Islamic fighters vastly differs from its treatment of those it sees as belonging to forces from enemy camps, including Shia Muslims, the Yazidi ethnic minority in Iraq, and those belonging to other religions.
A UN report released earlier this month documented that IS is mass executing and abusing children — including by burying them alive and crucifying them in Iraq, where the group now controls land in up to a third of the country.