ISIS militants are focused on brainwashing young boys to produce the next generation of gun-toting jihadis, according to textbooks found in the last town militants occupied in Northern Iraq, like reported by dailymail.co.uk.
Children’s exercise books for practising handwriting and grammar depicted faceless family units, showing Dad as an AK-47-wielding jihadi and Mum wearing full-face veil.
Teaching children a warped version of what a normal family should look like as soon as they were starting to read and write, Dad was pictured as a stereotypical jihadi fighter, with a full beard, no moustache, and a scarf wound around his head, holding a Kalashnikov with magazine pouches strapped over his traditional robes.
Giving the images an even creepier feel, the faces of the ISIS family unit were left as empty blank spaces, because the terror group deems depictions of human or animal faces idolatrous.
Across Iraqi towns and villages under ISIS control, militants blacked out faces on shopfronts, advertisements and even cartoon characters painted on the the walls of schools.
The accompanying text reads: ‘My father loves me and I love him. I love my mother and my (male) siblings.’
The deliberate exclusion of the feminine from the word ‘siblings’ in Arabic is because ISIS devalues young women, an Arabic language specialist in Baghdad told the Daily Mail.
The pages’ sinister images defy the brightly coloured covers, some of which show flower-filled gardens, town landscapes, or floating Arabic letters, all crowned with the black flag of ISIS.
Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) forces unearthed the sinister tomes in ISIS’ last stronghold in Northern Iraq, when combing through the rubble of a school in a village on the outskirts of the town of Hawija, controlled by the terror group for more than three years.
The most frightening book they discovered was a booklet for boys, entitled Read, Understand and Apply, aimed at 11-year-olds and featuring a range of lessons for young men of the Caliphate.
On the cover stands a boy with a Kalashnikov nearly the size of himself slung over his shoulder, standing in what appears to be a pink-hued forest of books. The boy holds aloft a copy of Read, Understand and Apply, gazing up towards it, while celestial light pours down from above.
Just seven pages in, the book features images of the three most important lessons for any young boy growing up in the Caliphate to learn – praying at the right times, being good to his parents, and fighting jihad for the sake of Allah.
Accompanying photographs, all with the faces blurred out, show a young boy dressed in jihadi attire, poised on one knee with a Kalashnikov at the ready, receiving instruction from an elder, and with hands folded in pious prayer.
Page 16 features an apparently regular section of the Read, Understand and Apply series, entitled ‘Heroes of the Caliphate’. The ‘Hero’ in this edition is an Iraqi called Abdullah Al-Ansari whose balaclava-clad image accompanying his story is not dissimilar to that of Jihadi John.
‘When we saw Abdullah for the first time, coming from Mosul to Salahaddin to join his brothers and fight for the Caliphate, he did not look like us.
‘His beard was short and he looked like a normal guy,’ the text reads. ‘He was not familiar with the sound of bullets or heavy weapons being fired, and he had never seen a RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] before.’
Describing him as an impatient young man when he joined ISIS, it was doubted that he had the dedication to persevere with the tough life of a jihadi, but Abdullah surprised everyone by responding well to ISIS teachings.
He was soon sent on a mission with two other Iraqis led by a foreign fighter wearing a suicide vest, to attack an army position manned by Shia Muslim soldiers. ISIS, which follows a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam, views Shia Muslims as one of its foremost enemies.
In dramatic and poetic language, the text describes the men’s mission in heroic terms.
The jihadis crawled on their bellies towards the Iraqi Army position to avoid detection but, as they drew near, soldiers spotted them and opened fire, killing the foreign fighter. Abdullah tore the suicide vest off his dead comrade and, donning it himself, crawled towards a tank.
He detonated the vest under the tank, allegedly destroying it and taking out several soldiers in the resulting explosion which, the text says, blew his body into pieces.
Thanks to his suicide mission, the other two ISIS fighters were then able to flee and regale ISIS Emirs with Abdullah’s story.
Reading the story, which ISIS students are instructed to memorise and recite, Iraqi soldier Ahmed, 26, burst out laughing.
‘This is a ridiculous story because a car-bomb would struggle to destroy a tank, let alone one man wearing a suicide belt. This is just bull****,’ he said. ‘One suicide bomber would cause only light surface damage to a tank, if any. This Abdullah guy just blew himself up for nothing.’
Another page rejects conventional dental care and instructs the reader that the only tooth-care needed is a twig from the Arak tree, called a Miswak or Siwak.
A traditional method of teeth-cleaning across the Arab world, the Miswak is said to have been favoured by the Prophet Mohammed, according to the Hadith (Sayings of the Prophet).
With an illustration showing a child with long curly hair held back by an ISIS headband, a whole page is dedicated to how best to practise oral hygiene using a Miswak, reminding readers that cleanliness, especially of the mouth, is pleasing to Allah.
Most of the ISIS books soldiers found near Hawija feature few, if any, images, instead offering page after page of written teachings, doctrine and instruction in ISIS ideologies and beliefs.
But occasionally a topic was deemed so crucial that a picture was included to press home the point. In one book on everyday living according to Islamic teachings, the single photo in the whole book shows an overweight man lying prostrate beside a vast platter of food.
Accompanying text warns of the dangers of obesity, describing it as a disease brought on by laziness and poor eating habits. ‘Another cause of this disease is gluttony and eating too much, especially sweets, rice, pasta and potatoes,’ according to the text.
One Iraqi soldier noted the irony of this. At the end of the battle for Mosul, after a months-long siege had left civilians literally starving to death, he said suspected ISIS fighters could often be spotted by their healthy appearance and portly stomachs. They were the only ones who had regular access to food in the last months of the Mosul battle.
All the books, pamphlets and associated propaganda have been gathered by members of the Hashd al-Shaabi force – which has played a vital role in eradicating ISIS in Iraq – to avoid them falling into the wrong hands, and for further investigation.
Understanding the inner workings of ISIS, those behind it and how they brainwashed ISIS fighters, adherents and especially children, will be crucial to de-radicalising Iraqi youth both now and in the future, one member of the Hashd al-Shaabi told the Daily Mail.