Deprogramming ISIL’s vicious child jihadists

BRUSSELS — The nine-year-old boy didn’t like school. He didn’t like the other children, because he knew what they really were: evil unbelievers who deserved to die. So he did what he was trained to do — he attacked them. He was removed from the building on his first day back.

The boy had spent two years away from his European homeland in a place where counting was taught by the strokes of a whip across a torture victim’s back; where watching public beheadings was part of the school curriculum; where his only role was to be moulded into a future jihadi, or a “cub of the Caliphate.” His years in the Islamic State’s stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, had turned him into brutalized, radicalized and deeply confused young boy.