The term, ‘post-traumatic stress,’ seems too delicate, too easy, to describe the effects of the brutal childhood that this eight-year-old boy faced. He was a former child soldier, forced into ISIS control for two and a half years. Akram’s shocking confessions to Fox through his therapist, paint a story that the Western world cannot begin to understand.
Akram was an ISIS prisoner for two and a half years long years. When his American peers were playing video games on iPads and learning to ride bikes in the cul-de-sac, Akram was forced to undergo torture and training to become a child soldier. He and a younger brother and sister were freed about two months ago by Kurdish fighters, although their mother remains in the terrorist camp. Human rights groups are working to free her. Akron now works with a therapist, a German psychologist named Jan Kizilhan, who treats ISIS victims.
The story started two years ago when Akram and his mother were shot as ISIS soldiers took over their village in Iraq. They were taken to the hospital in Mosul, which was then controlled by the terrorist group.
The doctors removed bullets from his back, but afterward, he was a prisoner of the brutal regime. Akram explains that he was forced to learn lessons on Islam and study Arabic so that he could read the Quran. He was beaten if he didn’t do his work. The Islamic soldiers that held him frequently threatened to cut off his hands for various offenses. They also threatened to behead him if he was not obedient during his weapons training. They controlled him with visits to his mother. If he were good and did well during his military training, then he could see her.
“He missed her and didn’t think he could survive without her,” said Kizilhan. He was a little child, of course, he needed his mother.
When he was seven, he was taught how to do a beheading. First, he was shown pictures of how to do it properly. Once he mastered the basics academically, he was taken to a town square to see an actual enemy beheading. This, of course, served two purposes on the part of his captors—one to teach technique and another to scare the captive into submission.
Kizilhan has been working with Akram and other victims of ISIS abuse. He says he first must build trust. Since Akram has seen little but violence in his short life, he must be shown that the world does not operate that way. Kizilhan explains that Akram will sometimes beat his young siblings, expressing his anger. He also has frequent nightmares and experiences difficulty sleeping. Kizilhan describes Akram’s body language like a hunted animal, eyes darting about, not making contact, and many nervous gestures.
Kizilhan has been working with over 1,000 victims at a treatment center in Germany. He likens the regime to the Nazis and admits that sometimes he finds the emotional toll of the victims’ experiences difficult to handle. For example, one chilling story Kizilhan told of another patient had to do with a mother who would not convert to Islam. The soldiers took her two-year-old daughter and locked her in a black box and left it out in the heat for seven days. The mother sobbed and pleaded, finally after seven days, when the child was near death, the soldier took the baby out and broke its back. She died two days later. It is one of those things that human emotion has to find alternate ways to process it so as not to be overcome.
“I have to learn to distance myself from the Akrams of the world,” he said. “Otherwise I will not be able to treat him.”
As ISIS continues to fight in Iraq, their stronghold over the region is decreasing. In the beginning, it was former Iraq military that were trained, skilled, and had weapons. Now, as their ranks are depleted, they are relying on child soldiers and online recruits with little to no experience. Some are drugging soldiers with a meth-like drug called Captagon. Sometimes called the Super Soldier Pill, it makes the user impervious to pain. It causes them to lose their mind and they just start shooting and fighting, completely uninhibited.
These new “recruits” resemble the intelligence and militancy of perhaps the Klu Klux Klan—all hate, no brains.
As the world is waking up from the “cultural relativity” that clouded their judgment of Islam, perhaps the nightmare for Akram and other tortured people around the world will come to an end soon.
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