14-year-old former ISIS soldier wants normal life

“My name is Mohammed, I’m 14 years old and I was a soldier.” Part of an elite group of child soldiers fighting for the ISIS jihadist group, Mohammed and others like him was trained to fight in the front, carry out suicide attacks and organize propaganda campaigns.

Warriors

Mohammed was trained by the best foreign warriors, including a man from Belgium. “There was a man called Abu Bassam al-Belgiki,” says Mohammed. “He was specialized in making weapons. I got to know him at training camp. He was with me until he went to Turkey.”

To the front

After a year and a half of training, Mohammed was used at the front in Aleppo, Homs, Damascus and Raqqa. “That’s when I became a true jihadist,” he says. “I really became part of them, part of ISIS.”

Muhammad does not know how many deaths he’s responsible for. “I do not know how many people I killed with my weapon,” he says. “It was a kalashnikov. I could not get my head up to look because then I would get shot. I just shot as much as I could.”

Right from wrong

Many of Mohammed’s fellow child soldiers were asked to blow themselves up or participate in executions. Mohammed says he always refused to do either. “I was looking to know what was right,” he says, “but I never knew what was wrong. Is it wrong to take a car and blow yourself up? Wrong to kill women and children? I was looking for the right way and I’m glad I did not go along with some of what I was told to do.”

Mohammed is now at a rehabilitation institution for former terrorists. He now sees his life as that of a normal a 14-year-old, post ISIS. “I want a normal life as a normal person,” he says.