By Dr. Amy L. Beam:
ISIS (Daesh or Islamic State) recently released another propaganda video with the intent to inflict maximum pain to Yezidis. In the video are two Yezidi boys who were allegedly used as suicide bombers.
The boys denounce their parents and Yezidis as infidels. They state they would explode themselves among the infidels. We then see an aerial view from a drone of two separate suicide truck bombs exploding. There is no way to verify if the boys were the ones actually in the suicide trucks allegedly in Mosul.
The boys are Amjad and Asa’ad Elias Ma’ajo both born in 2002. They lived in Tal Qassab on the south side of Shengal Mountain, Iraq. ISIS attacked Shengal beginning at 1 AM on August 3, 2014. At 4 AM Peshmerga defense forces began withdrawing. By 9:30 AM Peshmerga were totally gone, leaving the Yezidis defenseless, since they had already been disarmed in July 2014. The only Peshmerga who remained were Yezidis who stayed with their families.
Everyone from Tal Qassab and most other Yezidi villages fled to the mountain. People from Tal Qassab were resting in the shade in Qine Mehrkan old village on the mountain, when ISIS killed or kidnapped 95 people. Thirty-six children aged 13 and younger were kidnapped at 10 AM. Amjad and Asa’ad Elias Ma’ajo names were on the list given to me by their cousin Ismael Ali Silo in September 2014. The boys were eleven years old. ISIS also kidnapped 31 women and killed 28 men, including the boys’ father, four brothers, and one nephew.
By 1 PM on August 3, 2014, Shengal was virtually empty of Yezidis who had not been captured. ISIS controlled Shengal in less than twelve hours. Approximately 40,000 were stranded for nine days on the mountain. The remainder of approximately 250,000 escaped in their cars to Kurdistan.
ISIS kidnapped and killed over 10,000 Yezidis that bloody day. They followed a very systematic method of separating and categorizing them. Men 16 and older were killed. Boys between 6 and 15 were sent to jihadi school to study the Koran and extremist Islamic ideology. After months of Islamic indoctrination, they were transferred to ISIS military training camps to be brainwashed and trained as boy soldiers. In reality, they did a lot of calisthenics, were given fake wooden guns for practice or old Kalashnikovs that did not work well, and were closely guarded.
Girls and single women between ages 9 and 39 were sold into sex slavery. Married women were forcibly “married” to one ISIS man (sometimes more than one). They could keep their children under age 3 if they cooperated with their captor. In ISIS lingo, “married” means “raped.” Children between 3 and 8 were sold to childless Arab couples. Six-year-old Ayman Amin is a boy who was sold for $500 dollars when he was four. Ayman was rescued from his “adoptive” Arab parents in January 2017, when the Iraqi Army recaptured northeastern Mosul. Older women and handicapped were used for slave labor.
I have interviewed several hundred Yezidi survivors including two boys who escaped ISIS military training after two years. One boy had been featured in an early ISIS video of military training of boys. He spoke enthusiastically for the camera. When he spent several days with me immediately after being released, he explained that he used the opportunity to speak on the propaganda video in the hope that his mother would see it and know he was alive.
The other boy told me that the top ten students in his training class in Raqqa would get the special privilege to walk around in Raqqa accompanied by a ISIS trainer. He got to go to the internet point and call his mother. On the first opportunity when his ISIS companion was called to fight, this young boy called home and made a plan for his escape. He immediately was directed to a safe house and escaped to Kurdistan after two weeks.
Both of these young men were delightful to be with. Both explained that they pretended to convert to Islam and be like the other true Muslim boys in order to survive. They never gave up the hope of escape and reunification with their families.
It is my belief that Amjad and Asa’ad Elias Ma’ajo, the two Yezidi boys in the ISIS suicide video, never stopped loving or missing their families and never stopped knowing they were Yezidis.
Because their father and brothers had already been killed and most of the women and children kidnapped from their family, this was their escape from ISIS. I am certain they were parroting words that were fed to them, because their speeches were standard ISIS propaganda lines used repeatedly. On August 15, 2014, Abu Hamza Al-Khatouni, the ISIS leader who attacked Kocho, made a speech and said, “You have been liberated from the dark age you have been living in.” It is possible that lying for the camera was the trade-off the boys faced in exchange for making a final video for their mother.
The pain and tragedy of the Yezidi genocide continues. Approximately 3,000 Yezidis remain in the hands of ISIS. I again state my position that it is inhumane for governments of the world to refuse to rescue them when most of them could be returned within weeks for a few thousand dollars each. Those who risk their lives to bring them to safety face certain death if caught.
Condolences to the surviving family members and all Yezidis. May ISIS be defeated soon. May the others be released. May the passage of time bring a small measure of relief from suffering. May the rest of the world wake up to this inhumanity.
The link to the ISIS propaganda video is https://www.facebook.com/AmyLBeam/videos/10211347125051289/
Dr. Amy L. Beam is a researcher, writer and human rights activist. She has lived in Turkey then Iraq since 2007. She is executive director of AAJ humanitarian organization in Kurdistan, focused on helping the Yezidi women and children who have escaped ISIS captivity. She is finishing her book, “The Last Yezidi Genocide”. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmyLBeam