WASHINGTON — A new ISIS propaganda video allegedly features a 10-year American boy named Yusuf — who claims his father fought as a U.S. soldier in Iraq — threatening President Trump.
“My message to Trump, the puppet of the Jews, Allah has promised us victory and has promised you defeat,” Yusuf says in the video obtained by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
The boy claims to be 10 and says he moved to Syria just a couple years ago with his family. He also claims to be the son of an American soldier who fought in Iraq.
The boy speaks in fluent English throughout the video and uses Arabic in some phrases.
Military Times cannot confirm if the boy is an American, but ISIS has frequently used children in propaganda videos and has been known to recruit child soldiers in Iraq and Syria.
However, this is the first time the group has featured a child they claim is an American boy. In 2015, the terror group released a video of an ISIS child soldier holding a rocket-propelled grenade who threatened then-President Obama. In that video, boy looked to be nine or 10 and spoke only in Arabic.
“The battle is not going to end in Raqqa or Mosul. It’s going to end in your lands,” Yusuf threatens Trump in the recent ISIS video. “The fighting has just begun.”
The release of the video comes as U.S-backed Kurdish fighters have made impressive gains inside the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. The SDF currently control roughly 60 percent of the city, according to Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, the deputy commanding general for Operation Inherent Resolve.
ISIS propaganda efforts are robust, according to Steven Stalinsky, MEMRI executive director.
“The group has invested tremendous efforts in indoctrinating the next generation,” he said.
Child recruits are forced to sit through religious training and indoctrination, including being forced to watch floggings, crucifixions, stonings and executions, he said.
“ISIS’s media outreach has also included the release of numerous videos of its young ‘Caliphate Cubs’ actually executing prisoners,” Stalinsky said.
“There is an entire generation that has been indoctrinated and trained by ISIS, and even if ISIS loses all its territory, it will still have thousands of children and teens who believe in its ideology and are ready to implement what they have been taught in order to carry out terror attacks — and they may be returning, with their families, to the West,” he added.
Military Times has reached out to the FBI about whether any U.S. military veterans are currently fighting with ISIS; the FBI has not responded.
A U.S. soldier in Hawaii, Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Erik Kang, is currently facing four charges of attempting to support ISIS, according to a report by NPR.
There are a number of U.S. veterans currently serving with anti-ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq. A large number of them are fighting with the U.S.-backed Kurdish group known as the YPG, and some have given their lives for the cause, including in the battle to liberate Raqqa.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.