A new report released by the Dutch security service AIVD reveals that at least 70 Dutch children are living in Syria and Iraq, primarily in Islamic State-controlled territory.
Two-thirds of the children were brought to the war zone by their parents, with one-third born there. The report, titled Living with ISIS: The Myth Unravelled, paints a brutal picture of what life is like for these children.
The children live with death, destruction and constant bombings, according to the report. In addition, “They are regularly confronted with the fact that their father or another family member has died.”
They are also taken to witness executions and beatings. Boys from the age of nine are trained to become jihadis, using weapons and practicing executions. They are taken to fight on the front lines at age 13. Nine-year-old girls are forced to wear full face veils and are married, presumably to Islamic State fighters. They are expected to have as many children as possible.
“With all my experience, that has really shocked me,” said AIVD chief Rob Bertholee.
Speaking to Dutch News, a close family member said the children will most likely never be seen again.
“Even if they wanted to, they can’t come back. It is not allowed,” he said. “They probably won’t grow old and if they ever come back, they will have changed. They will have seen too much. It is very sad.”