As the war in Mosul comes to an end and ISIS retreats, legions of young victims are being left behind. Without help, they may pose a long-term threat to the security of the region and the world at large.
Children were uniquely victimized by ISIS. First, as bystanders caught in a brutal war, but more shockingly, as soldiers who were recruited, indoctrinated with a deadly ideology, then trained to kill and fight on the battlefield. As they are freed from ISIS, traumatized and untreated, they’re now melting back into society — still heavily influenced by their experience.
Sherri Talabany is one of the loudest voices calling for help. A former U.S. diplomat now living in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, Talabany is president and founder of SEED, an NGO helping victims of ISIS. She fears that many recent arrivals desperately need help, or risk posing a danger not only to themselves and their families, but to the country and the world.
She observes, “the boys that were in DAESH training camp … were taught nothing but violence against their own families. Hatred and violence. they’ve been involved in murder, they’ve been involved in torture.”
Sherri says, “The terrible thing about the experience is, nobody knows what is going to happen next.”
“What we’re learning about this youth is that we need a very long term engagement and it needs to be very consistent, and it needs to be very intensive.”
“If we have this whole generation untreated and suffering from these traumatic events … We’re just going to be prone to another wave and cycle of ISIS or Al Qaeda 3.0.”