In July 2013, EA first noted the more enjoyable side of the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham’s offensive for hearts-and-minds in northern Syria. The militants were holding fun fairs, with cream-eating contests, Qur’an-reading competitions, and even a tug-of-war with the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra:
We continued to watch the fun fairs, even when they were not so much fun, as in this rather boring serenade for a few children — and no women — in Raqqa in April 2014:
This week, the Islamic State and their fun fairs are back. As Der Spiegel reports on the movement’s detailed plans to take over Syrian communities with “missionary offices” — as well as infiltration, espionage, and blackmail — a video shows the militants using children to recruit children.
The “Daw’ah Caravan for the Cubs of the Caliphate” comes from Mosul, the Iraqi city taken by the Islamic State in June 2014. A fighter speaks about Islam and jihad, then boys in military fatigues and Islamic State-style headbands perform for the audience.
While the “guards” for the event — teenage boys with guns in front of the crowd — might seem off-putting, the children can treat themselves to brightly-colored slushies, doner kebabs, and freshly-baked pitta bread.
Joanna Paraszczuk has more information about the “Cubs for the Caliphate” campaign, including the use of children in videos of not-so-fun executions, in her “Under the Black Flag” column.