Snatched: The Kurdish pupils, aged between 14 and 16, are being held hostage in the ISIS-controlled city of Manbij, where they are being forced to take lessons in radical Islamic theology. (Daily Mail)
Militants with black masks stand by as 15-year-old Mohammed watches a video of fighters cutting off a man’s head.
“This is jihad for the sake of God,” the men with Kalashnikov rifles say.
Mohammed begins to feel lost, confused. “Does God want me to do jihad?” he wonders.
This is Mohammed’s eyewitness account, told to CNN on Wednesday in a telephone interview.
He was one of the more than 140 Kurdish schoolboys kidnapped in Syria last month by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and forced to take daily lessons in radical Islamic theology, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group, and local activists say.
Mohammed’s account provides insight into the workings of an organization that has the stated goal of creating a single caliphate across Syria and neighboring Iraq.
Armed fighters in pickup trucks on May 29 stopped buses driving children back to their hometown of Ayn al-Arab from their junior high final exams in Aleppo.
“How can you sit with the girls? It is forbidden!” the men, many with foreign accents, yelled as they separated the female students and took only the boys.
The convoy of fighters then forcibly escorted the all-male group to the ISIS-controlled city of Manbij in northern Syria, Mohammed told CNN.
‘Brainwashed': Some of the 140 schoolboys reportedly captured by ISIS militants in Syria while travelling back home on a convoy of buses after taking their final exams in the city of Aleppo. (Daily Mail)
A school boy in Manbij, Syria. (Zaman)