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The Glorious Martyrs of the Islamic State

By Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. & Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D.

ICSVE is proud to announce the release of The Glorious Martyrs of the Islamic State, another new video clip in the Breaking the ISIS Brand–ISIS Defectors Counter-Narrative Project, a project aimed at using ISIS insiders to denounce the terrorist group and disrupt their online and face-to-face recruitment. The Glorious Martyrs of the Islamic State, produced by Zack Baddorf, is based on an ISIS defector interview Dr. Speckhard and Dr. Yayla made of a Syrian and former ISIS cadre, Ibn Mesud in Turkey. (His name has been changed.)

After ISIS took over their territory in Syria, Ibn Mesud, at age 16 joined the Cubs of the Caliphate. He was  indoctrinated into ISIS’s “martyrdom” ideology and heavily pressured into taking a suicide mission while being told that his death by suicide would be painless and he would go directly to paradise. To that end, he was even given a sedative. He was also offered a slave girl as a bride in compensation for his life being used to kill others.

Ibn Mesud reports that the Cubs were sent to the front lines while others stayed back, and that during his time with ISIS he witnessed horrific violence, un-Islamic behaviors and corruption. His story highlights how local Syrian teens are fooled into giving their lives to kill in behalf of ISIS as well as his horrific experiences within the group. He warns others not to join–saying it would be better to eat dirt than join. The transcript of the video clip is below and the video can be viewed here as well as from our ICSVE website.

Title:   The Glorious Martyrs of the Islamic State

0.01.1   ISIS came and started talking about Islam.

0.06     They took over our area.

0.09     They called for everyone to come to the mosques.

0.15     They took the youth from my generation and younger.

0.19     They taught us about the Koran, about prayers and preached to us.

0.25     I was about seventeen.

0.33     IBN MESUD

Former ISIS Child Soldier

I was just a child. I was just a student.

0.39     [They told us] about ISIS, its accomplishments in Iraq,

0.43     about ISIS being righteous,

0.45     about paradise,

0.47     and they said, ‘We will take you to fight with us.’

0.57     I had to quit school to financially support my brothers and sisters.

1.04     So I joined ISIS.

1.08     We told [the sheikh] that we are here to pledge our allegiance

1:10     and to fight for the Islamic State.

1:18     After religious lessons, they taught us about weaponry.

1:24     How to dismantle a weapon. How to clean it. How to shoot.

1.35     They leave the foreign fighters at the headquarters.

1.39     We, the Cubs of the Caliphate, were put on the front lines.

1.47     [We were] about 1,500 total youth.

1.50     Some were my age [17] and some were younger.

1.56     One of them became [a suicide bomber].

2:03     I was told, ‘Go [on a suicide mission] and we will take care of your family.’

2.10     He told me, ‘You won’t feel death.’

2.16     He showed me an envelope.

2.19     He told me to drink water with it.

2.24     ‘You won’t feel anything,’ he said.

2.28     They told us that this mission will bring you closer to paradise

2.35     and that this is your opportunity to get to paradise faster.

2.41     I told him, ‘My dad is handicapped. I can’t blow myself up.’

2.49     They said: ‘We will marry you. We will offer you a slave.’

2:55     It’s something they unjustly legitimized for themselves.

3:01     He said, ‘This is a pretty girl. Take her as your bride.’

3:16     The Coalition forces started to hit ISIS positions.

3:23     Some other [ISIS child soldiers] were scared of getting killed from the bombings.

3:30     That’s why they started to run away.

3:34     ISIS was stopping them from escaping.

3:37     When they found someone trying to run away, they would put him in the battlefield on the front lines.

3:46     ‘If he becomes a martyr in battle, then so be it.’

3:53     They would take the young ones to Iraq.

3:59     I refused to go.

4:01     I decided to leave ISIS—to defect.

4:08     I told the Sheikh that I needed to go on leave, because my dad wasn’t feeling well.

4:14     I went from Raqqa to Tell Abayd [a border town].

4:19     From there, I entered Turkey.

4:26     In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,

4:28     I advise my brothers, who are my age or younger: do not be tricked by ISIS.

4:37     Don’t join ISIS.

4:40     I want to tell you: money isn’t everything.

4:45     It’d be better to eat dirt that join ISIS.

4:50     They are not righteous.

4:54     People live in darkness under their rule.

4:58     I tell you again: ISIS is not righteous.

5:04     The truth is: I am still suffering from what I have seen.

5:13     I hope that Allah Almighty will help me forget those things

5:18     so I can start a new life.

5:23     The Truth Behind the Islamic State

5:26     Sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism

5:28     The International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism

Thanks to Zack Baddorf (video producer), Ahmet S. Yayla (Senior Research Fellow), Grace Wakim (translator) and the ICSVE team for making this video a reality.

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University in the School of Medicine and Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) where she heads the Breaking the ISIS Brand—ISIS Defectors Interviews Project. She is the author of: Talking to Terrorists, Bride of ISIS and coauthor of ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate; Undercover Jihadi; and Warrior Princess. Dr. Speckhard has interviewed nearly 500 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including Gaza, West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and many countries in Europe. In 2007, she was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to 20,000 + detainees and 800 juveniles. She is a sought after counterterrorism experts and has consulted to NATO, OSCE, foreign governments and to the U.S. Senate & House, Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Health & Human Services, CIA and FBI and CNN, BBC, NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, CTV, and in Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, London Times and many other publications. Her publications are found here:

Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Fellow of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and has been collecting interviews over the last year on ISIS defectors. He is coauthor with Dr. Speckhard for the book ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. Dr. Yayla also serves as Adjunct Professor at the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University and formerly served as Professor and the Chair of the Sociology Department at Harran University in Turkey. Dr. Yayla earned both his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Criminal Justice and Information Science from the University of North Texas in the United States. Dr. Yayla served as the Chief of Counterterrorism and Operations Division for the Turkish National Police and is an expert on Turkish terrorism-related topics.

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