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Islamic State Video Offers Glimpse Into Schools Where Kids Are Taught to Kill

In a new propaganda video, young Islamic State recruits from Kazakhstan are taught to speak and write Arabic — and to kill the group’s enemies.

by Payton Guion
Nov 22 2014, 5:22pm

Photo via al-Hayat

In some ways, class at an Islamic State school doesn't seem all that unusual: an instructor stands at the head of the classroom teaching children to read and write. But when it's time for physical education, instead of running track or playing dodgeball, the kids learn to handle assault rifles and kill anyone who opposes the Islamic State.

A video released Friday by the militant group shows how foreigners are assimilated into the Islamic State. In this case, it's a group of Kazakh men, women, and children.

The video — which appeared briefly on YouTube before it was removed by the site — starts by showing a group of Kazakh men training for combat. But the majority of the footage focuses on the kids, some younger than three years old.

One scene shows an instructor teaching students how to write their names in Arabic. Later in the video, some of the children appear to be quite comfortable speaking the language, fluent enough to easily transition between Arabic and their native tongue.

According to the video, the goal is to get the children comfortable with reading and writing Arabic so they can study the Quran. Their Islamic education is supplemented with training in jihad.

"We're going to kill you, O kuffar," one boy says in the video, referring to nonbelievers of the Islamic State's brand of Islam. "Insha'allah (God willing), we'll slaughter you."

According to the Kazakh National Security Committee, more than 300 Kazakhs have joined IS as of November 18, including 150 women. No count was given on the number of children who have joined the group with their parents. The 300 figure is likely on the conservative side, and could come from a video released around this time last year that featured about 150 Kazakh militants who said they had come to Syria with their families.

A screenshot of the al-Hayat video shows the Kazakh men during rifle training.

The Kazakhs opting to join the Islamic State aren't coming from a particular group or social class, according to a report from Radio Free Europe. The country's educated and employed citizens are reportedly joining the militant group just as often the poor and disadvantaged.

Tatyana Dronzina, an expert on terrorism from Sofia State University in Bulgaria, told Radio Free Europe that Kazakhs will continue to join the Islamic militants until they get unfiltered information about life in the group, including the knowledge that minority women are often forced into slavery.

A November 3 report from a Kazakh publication said that 80 percent of Kazakhs who had joined the Islamic State were already dead.

The recent Islamic State propaganda video featuring the Kazakhs doesn't present the group as offering refuge. The Kazakh men in the video say they understand that they're training to die.

"Meet some of our newest brothers from the land of Kazakhstan," a message that opens the video says. "They responded to the crusader aggression with their Hijrah and raced to prepare themselves and their children, knowing very well that their final return is to Allah."

Follow Payton Guion on Twitter: @PaytonGuion