The latest Islamic State video is entitled “to the sons of Jews”.
It is a message directed not at Jews in general but specifically at Israelis. It begins with a child surfing the web, images of a soldier stopping a child at a checkpoint, the Israeli flag and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Then Facebook – just like you or I might send an image of friends, a sunset, a nice meal or a funny video to a friend, this child types his message to “the sons of Jews” and uploads a video. A “love letter”, specifically for us.
Cut to the video. We are no longer looking at the room where the desk and computer sit, now we see the Islamic State lesson to the “cubs of the Caliphate.”
Highly stylized cinematography gives us a glimpse of what the Islamic State is teaching the next generation. Dozens of boys who appear to be around 10 years old are sitting at desks, memorizing Islamic manuscripts. Cut to lessons in hand to hand combat, where one of the boys learns to fight a grown man. Then again the boys are sitting at desks listening to a lecture.
I don’t know Arabic. If I did I would have understood much more. The messages of IS are full of meaning, all the details chosen very carefully.
The few words I did catch were enough:
- Chilafa = Caliphate
- Kufr = infidels
- Yehud = Jews
- Towheed = Oneness of Allah (worship of no other God besides Allah)
- Tahrir AhSham = freeing Syria
- Beit El Abiad fee Amerika = White House in America
- Tel Abib = Tel Aviv
- Al Aqsa = the mosque built on the ruins of the ancient Jewish Temple, in the heart of Jerusalem (not the golden Dome of the Rock, the other squat grey mosque next to it).
Out of the students, six boys are chosen by the teacher. They are displayed in computer game style, their faces and names given. These are the warriors of the Caliphate and it is by their hands the message will be delivered to the sons of Jews.
An aerial shot shows an ancient ruined structure, supposedly in Syria. The boys are waiting outside. The first makes a dramatic declaration and runs to the entrance of the structure. There he pulls a mask over his head and a grown man hands him a gun.
The sequence is staged like a video game, edited for highest adrenaline-pumping impact, worthy of any epic Hollywood film. Each child jihadi hunts his enemy, alone in the abandoned structure. Each child finds one enemy, a bound captive, and kills him. Each death is preceded by a video of the man stating who he is (taken previously). The camera eats up each death with a sort of glee, lingering on the suffering of the dying man, lingering on each detail. After the child finishes his mission he exists the structure handing his mask and gun to the next child.
Each set up is different and dramatic. Particular emphasis is put on the running feet of the children who unerringly find their way to the next enemy – including running up and down hills, searching through caves and jumping over the body of one of the men who had been killed on one of the previous “missions”.
The final death is by the knife, not the gun. This one gets special slow motion treatment. The knife isn’t very sharp and the child has to saw away at the man’s neck to kill him. During the last death the teacher’s voice is plainly heard, part of the lesson being repeated, emphasized.
Understanding Arabic would reveal many more nuances to this video. But I don’t have to understand the details of the lesson to get the message. It’s loud and clear.
Gory as the video is, sickening as it is to use children to murder it’s not the deaths or their gruesomeness that is the point. The true horror is in the message:
These are our children, the next generation.
We teach them our beliefs and our methods and they learn well.
If it is not by our hands, the mission will be executed by them.
They will kill you, the Jews, just like they are killing these Syrians.
First we need to free Syria but we will come for you next – to Tel Aviv and to the White House.
Their message is a demonstration of the sincerity of their faith and the timelessness of their goal. The Islamic State believes in towheed, the Oneness of Allah, that all others must be conquered until all submit to Allah. They believe in the Caliphate and a fighting to widen its borders. The lessons to their young are for the sole purpose of passing on this faith. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, if the grown-ups do not attain their goal the next generation will take up the sword and continue to fight.
This isn’t a passing fad. It’s not an uprising that once squashed down will be forgotten.
This ideology is permeates every action, every thought, every breath and they will not rest until it is achieved.
And that is completely up to us.