Over 70 Dutch kids in ISIS territory; life for women "traumatic"
There are at least 70 Dutch children living in the caliphate declared by terrorist organization Islamic State. Life in the caliphate is "traumatic" and difficult, and those who have second thoughts about living in ISIS territory find it almost impossible to escape, according to a report by intelligence service AIVD, the Volkskrant reports.
The main goal for the report, titled Life at ISIS, the myth unraveled, is to provide a counterpoint for the propaganda spread by the terrorist organization, which still manages to convince an average of 5 Dutch Muslims a week to join the fight in Syria.
The propaganda spread through social media and text messages paints a picture of everyone in the caliphate having their own home and that every meal is a fest. Rubbish is picked up every day and there is access to fantastic medical care, provided by western doctors who joined ISIS due to their ideology.
According to the AIVD, the reality is much different.
Upon arrival in ISIS territory, men women and any children are separated. They are extensively questioned before being admitted to the territory, to make sure they're not spies.
Men must immediately swear allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi. They then receive physically demanding military training and are forced to blindly follow ISIS orders. Newcomers get to choose their own role. They can fight or perform support tasks, such as making propaganda, recruitment, teaching or join the Hisba, the religious police. According to the AIVD, almost all Dutch men opt for the battlefield because they dream of a glorious martyrdom. It is "not uncommon" for the combatants to participate in executions, torture and rape.
Women also receive weapons training, though in principle they do not participate in the fight. They are sometimes given permission to walk the streets armed and some even wear bomb-belts, which they can detonate when they are attacked. Some women are allowed to work outside the home as a teacher of doctor. They can also join the Al-Khansaa brigade, which checks women for "un-Islamic behavior" and doles out corporal punishments for missteps.
But the main task for women is to have as many babies as quickly as possible. The AIVD is not sure how many Dutch babies have been born in the caliphate, their births are not registered in any way, but estimates it is around 20. According to the service, giving birth is "life threateningly dangerous" as women may only be helped by female doctors, of which there is a massive shortage.
Life in the caliphate is especially traumatizing to the kids. They are exposed to bombings and have to attend public executions and corporal punishments. From the age of 6 they attend schools, receiving lessons in English, Arabic, mathematics and the ISIS ideology. From the age of 9 girls have to walk around completely veiled and boys are sent to the training camps for children. They are taught how to use weapons, are used in propaganda films and practice executions and beheadings on dolls and teddy bears.