Young children are being armed with guns and forced to carry out violent executions of prisoners as junior jihadis, according to a disturbing new ISIS [Daesh] propaganda report.
A chilling article entitled The Lions of Tomorrow, published in the official magazine of terror group, boasts of Daesh using of "the children.. of jihad" in its bloody insurgency in Syria and Iraq. It's illustrated by two young boys holding guns in accompanying photos.
"It is these young lions to whom the Islamic State [ISIS or Daesh] recently handed over two agents caught spying for Russian Intelligence and an agent caught spying for the Israeli Mossad, to be executed and displayed as an example to anyone else thinking of infiltrating the mujahideen [jihad fighters]," the article states.
In the first photo, what appears to be the dead body of a bearded man in orange clothing with a blood-spattered face lies in the foreground. An armed pre-pubescent boy in camouflage clothing, a black bandana and a backpack stands behind him, staring straight ahead.
In the second photo, an even smaller boy with shoulder-length black hair - who looks as young as six or seven - stands with a gun behind an identifiable person kneeling on the ground with their hands behind their back.
The terror group attempts to justify its use of children in warfare with references to the Islamic faith. It has previously released video footage of children being trained at terror camps, which experts say is an attempt to make its influence and might appear stronger.
"As the mujahideen of the Islamic State continue their march against the forces of [infidels] there is a new generation waiting in the wings, eagerly anticipating the day that it is called upon to take up the banner of man [higher level of faith]," states the propaganda article.
"These are the children of the [nation] of jihad, a generation raised join the lands of [fierce battles] and nurtured under the shade of Shari'ah, just a stone's throw from the frontlines."
The article in the latest issue of Dabiq, an online magazine produced by ISIS's media wing Al Hayat, says institutes have been established to train and hone the military skills of these "lion cubs".
The use of child soldiers, who are often brainwashed, desensitised to violence and death and irrevocably traumatised by their experiences, is a well-established tactic by terror groups.
What is 'Daesh'?
Earlier this year Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he will use the term 'Daesh' instead of 'Isil death cult' when referring to the Islamic State terrorist organisation.
Australia's allies in the Middle East have reportedly encouraged the move saying that the terrorist group reportedly loathe the moniker Daesh – which is also an acronym, but of the Arabic words that mean the same thing as ISIS: Al Dawla al-Islamyia fil Iraq wa'al Sham.
Pronounced Da'ish – with a long emphasis on the long "e" – Mr Abbott aims to further neuter the term by mispronouncing it "Dash".
"Daesh hates being referred to by this term, and what they don’t like has an instinctive appeal to me," the Australian prime minister told the Herald Sun.
"I absolutely refuse to refer to it by the title that it claims for itself [Islamic State], because I think this is a perversion of religion and a travesty of governance."
Joseph Bahout, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Huffington Post that the word Daesh in Arabic "sounds like something monstrous" and is a way of "stigmatising" the organisiation.
The terror group's leaders have threatened to "cut out the tongues" of those who refer to them as Daesh or DAIISH, according to international media reports.
In a move that is aimed at legitimising the group and removing the word "Islamic" from their title French president, François Hollande, is also pushing the use of Daesh when referring to the group.