Islamic State In West Africa (ISWAP) Released Video Of 'Caliphate Cubs,' Aged 12-18, Receiving Combat, Religious Training, Executing Nigerian Soldiers
On January 18, 2022, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) released a video documenting the indoctrination and training of young fighters, including child soldiers. Titled "The Empowerment Generation," the new release covered various day-to-day activities of a group of at least 30 teen fighters, aged 12-18, including their prayers and training. Interestingly, some of the footage documenting the group's training appears to have been shot using drones.
The 27-minute video, which is similar to the group's older releases during its physical Caliphate, began with a Quranic verse: "Allah has promised those among you who believe and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession in the land, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practice their religion which He has chosen for them and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: 'They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me. 'If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked."
Next, the video showed masked teen fighters practicing hand-to-hand combat, fitness drills, and the use of arms in an outdoor setting. The footage was set to a nashid praising the creed of the Caliphate.
The video then showed footage of a group of young fighters preparing for dawn prayers, including the Wudhu, ritual washing, and performing salat al jama'ah (congregational prayer). Highlighting the fighters' youth without revealing their faces, the camera focuses their hands, legs, and backs.
A masked child fighter then addressed the camera, speaking in an unidentified language about his training. The Arabic captions read: "We are here in the Caliphate Cub Institute, receiving spiritual and physical training. We study religious sciences, Arabic, and the Prophet's biography." The boy continued: "We receive physical training [in] how to assemble and dissemble arms, [and] how to use arms. We will put into practice what we have learned, by Allah's will, to embolden the blessed Caliphate, which was established based on the creed of the Prophet. We will fight Kufr [unbelief] in all its forms."
Next, the video showed young fighters sharing a meal and washing dishes.
Teen fighters are then seen in a classroom, submitting papers to a teacher who later lectures the students about an Islamic ruling that parliaments are not religiously permissible, saying they are represent "a form of Taghot [tyranny],” adding that ISIS soldiers are tasked with fighting democracy, which contradicts Islam, and are ordered to do so by Allah.
The video also showed another teacher explaining Arabic grammar, and later discussing the efforts made in the camp and the "long term plans designed to empower the new generation of Caliphate soldiers." The instructor added that even while waging fierce battles against the infidel, the Islamic State founded, educational programs for the younger generation, years ago, which included classes in memorization of the Quran, religious institutes, and training camps. He added that this religious institute will soon celebrate the graduation of its first class of fighters, explaining that fighters must pass an initial exam before being accepted into the institute. Over the past year, they studied Quran, Arabic, and religious sciences, he said.
The video then showed a group of young fighters gathering around a TV screen, watching past ISIS videos.
A masked teen fighter then described the daily schedule of "this School of Caliphate Cubs," saying the fighters wake up early, before the dawn prayer. "After that, we head out to breakfast, then to the training field, before going to religious classes. We have lunch at 12, followed by the Duhr [noon] prayer, a nap, and the Asr [afternoon] prayer." He added he and his fellow fighters continue training in the afternoon, until it is time for Maghreb (sunset) prayer, which is followed by Quran sessions until the Asha (dinner) prayer, after which the fighters go to bed.
The video then showed clips documenting physical and arms training, in which one child is seen vowing that "there is no way to free the prisoners, liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque, Two Holy Mosques and conquer Rome and Al-Andalus— except through jihad."
Other footage showed a physical trainer saying: "We tell the Crusaders that this new generation was raised to have a passion for martyrdom and for killing for the sake of Allah."
The video then showed the execution of several prisoners, including Nigerian soldiers who were captured at the beginning of last year. The executions were carried out by the children of the camp.
The video concluded with footage of the child soldiers pledging to carry out jihad and Hijra (immigration to Islamic lands) and stating their allegiance to ISIS top leader Abu Ibrahim Al-Qurashi.
 Telegram, January 18, 2022.