ISIS abused and tortured more than 150 young Kurdish boys for four to six months as they were held captive near the Syrian town of Kobani. The militants abducted the group of children as they were on their way back from taking school tests in Aleppo. ISIS initially stopped a group of around 250 children, which included not only boys but girls as well, but they released all the girls and kidnapped only the boys, for reasons unknown. Some children managed to escape; others were released slowly over time, the last of which were released on October 29, 2014.
Four children, ages 14 to 16, gave detailed accounts of the conditions they suffered while in captivity to the organization Human Rights Watch. The boys received three blankets; two to sleep on and one to cover them while sleeping. They were allowed to bathe once every two weeks. They weren’t allowed to play outside and they weren’t allowed to speak their native language. The children were forced to pray many times a day, underwent very intense study of Islam, and memorized verses of the Koran. They were also forced to watch videos of ISIS attacks and of gruesome beheadings. They were routinely beaten with hoses and thick cables with wires running through them on their hands, backs, and soles of their feet. The guards found plenty of reasons to beat the children; doing poor in lessons, misbehaving, escape attempts, or just because a captor was in the mood to punish one of the boys.
The children said that the guards were a diverse group, made up of Syrian Arabs, people from Libya, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. The children reported that the group who gave the worst beatings were the Syrians, particularly a man named Abu Shehid.
ISIS clearly crossed the line by capturing and torturing these boys; both actions are not only inhumane, but are considered war crimes under international humanitarian law. These kidnappings severely disregarded the human rights of these children and showed how very dangerous ISIS is.