Ex-ISIS child soldier recalls horror of seeing kids playing with severed heads of executed prisoners

An ISIS fighter waves his flag and weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.Reuters/Stringer

ISIS has been known to exploit children and hone them into soldiers and assets for the group. One of them was a boy named Ibrahim, a former ISIS soldier whose horrific experience with the militant group are forever etched on his mind.

Ibrahim was 13 when ISIS enlisted him and his friends. At this tender age, he watched his hometown burn to the ground, mourned his father's death at the hands of a sniper and saw his mother fend for his three siblings.

"They came to us and said, you will be martyrs and you will earn paradise and virgins," Ibrahim told Marcia Biggs of PBS. The former ISIS member acted as an important soldier for the group.

Ibrahim was allowed to kill prisoners, bring in women who did not wear proper clothes and act as
a "rat" on those who smoked and did not go to the mosque. Ibrahim and other young recruits were also forced to watch beheadings.

His mother Rania said in the same PBS interview that ISIS brainwashed his son and the others into thinking that by doing all this, they become real men, which the young soldiers believed.

As ISIS's control and influence over her son grew, Ibrahim became more and more inclined to be a fighter for the group, even opting to become a suicide bomber.

However, he realized that ISIS did not keep the promises they made to the other suicide bombers to take care of the families they leave behind as they serve the group. At that moment, Ibrahim snapped out of his illusion.

"I saw people tortured, hanged from their hands for 40 days. One was crucified upside down, hanged from his legs. What I have seen in prison, I have seen how they tortured people in a cruel way, no limits to the torture, the sight of young children playing with the severed heads. These sights will make this generation a cruel generation," Ibrahim recalled.

At that point, Rania was able to convince her son to leave and return to Turkey, the place where they were given the chance to start anew.

Ibrahim's family went there in their first attempt to escape ISIS, but Ibrahim, at that time with the brainwashing still affecting his choices, chose to return to Syria and fight with and for the militant group.

Now, after everything he witnessed, Ibrahim vowed to never return to ISIS and will join anyone against them.

When Biggs asked him if he wants to live first the childhood he missed before beginning his new fight, he said, "Yes, of course, but after all we have seen, after all the torture I saw in prison, all the kids they killed, we don't have any other options."