March 2, 2015
Children of the Sunni tribe of Bou Fahed receive weapons and trench-warfare training from community elders in Ramadi, al-Anbar province, Iraq in order to prepare them against potential ISIS assaults. In the video, boys as young as 12 claim to have taken part in pitched battles against ISIS, whereas others appearing much younger hold automatic weapons and join in chants vowing to "die with dignity" and defend their land from ISIS with their "dead bodies". One says he would rather train in combat in order to please his father and bring honor on his family than go to school. Abu Oman, a tribal Sheikh, says that teaching young children to defend their honor and protect their land is part of tribal tradition, and it is a father's duty to teach his son the importance of these virtues.
Trainer (man, Arabic):
(00:07) If you see anybody moving in front of you, shoot him. Our enemies are located from this point onward.
(00:21) You are the men of…
Children: Bou Fahed men!
Trainer: Whose men are you?
Children: The Bou Fahed!
(00:30) Trainer: Would you allow ISIS to come here?
(00:57) Trainer: By God, you will fight in real life, not in some fake battle.
(01:16) Hold it like that, to the front.
(01:24) Put the rifle butt against your shoulder.
(01:45) Trainer: Who is your enemy?
Children: ISIS! (Shouting)
Trainer: Do you want to fight them?
Children: Yes! (Shouting)
Trainer: You are heroes, good job.
Oman, 12 years old, (Child, Arabic):
(02:10) We are the heroes of the Bou Fahed clan. We are standing up to ISIS to defend our land and honor.
This is the field of honor, dignity and pride. We are standing here to defend our honor, women and land.
Many battles began in the Eastern Husseiba area, al-Madeek and al-Jareyya. We support our brothers in the police, the army, al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization militia), and other tribal heroes.
We are steadfast against ISIS. By God, they will only step on this land over our dead bodies.
I participated in the battle of Eastern Huseiba. My brothers from the police and the clans were worried about my safety. But I asked to shoot, and they allowed me to shoot.
My friends at school are proud of me. I support my brothers from the Bou Fahed clan.
Interviewer: Are you not afraid of being injured or hurt? Are you not scared of the sound of shooting? What would you do?
Does one die once or twice?
Interviewer: What is that? Repeat it.
Does one die once or twice? We would rather die with our dignity than live in humiliation.
Ali Kamal Sabagh, 13 years old, (Child, Arabic):
(03:45) The Bou Fahed clan was at the barricade, the Eastern Husseiba barricade. There was shooting. I said: “Should I shoot?” They said: “No, do not.” They did not let me shoot.
They asked me to bring them water, to carry ammunition and bring food. I stayed with them.
Interviewer: Are you not afraid of being injured? What do your friends in school tell you? What class are you in?
I am in seventh grade. I am not afraid of being injured or of anything that might happen to me. All I care about is protecting my home, honor, and dignity.
Interviewer: How do you feel about the police and the army? What does your father do for a living?
I love the police and the army and I wish I could participate with them in fighting ISIS, the terrorists. I hope that ISIS leaves al-Anbar.
My friends ask me if I fear to get injured, I say: “No, I am protecting my home.”
Interviewer: What does your father do for a living?
He works in the police force.
Interviewer: Your father is in the police?
(04:53) These are the people of al-Ramadi, who did not accept shame.
They are both young and gray-haired,
They are the people of dignity, generosity, manliness and goodness,
We want to die with dignity!
We will stand and fight you, ISIS!
You have doomed yourselves by attacking the Bou Fahed clan,
The brave have stood against you,
They will cut your tails.
O my brothers,
We are leopards and our flag shall remain high,
We taught the entire universe a lesson,
We will die with our dignity, and never surrender or be humiliated.
O my brothers,
We shall fight,
We are the victorious leopards,
O my brothers,
Cover your head for the Bou Fahed have come.
Abu Oman, Tribal Sheikh (Man, Arabic):
(06:09) People should know that these are the traditions of the clans. We raise our children to have good ethics and religious values; to be generous and respect hospitality. This is the most important message we want to deliver. Our children, in spite of their young age, they were brought up to defend their land, honor, religion, homeland, the province, and the clan. As their fathers we have duties, but they also have duties, too. They need to understand the need to defend honor, land and religion.
We want to deliver this message to anyone who does not understand what a clan means. Each clan can represent a country that has its own traditions, customs and constitution. Whoever does not know this should know it.
Interviewer: How old were you when you started to shoot? Did your father also teach you these things?
I was 10 years old, as I remember. I started to shoot during the good times; at weddings, occasions, and funerals. We learnt how to shoot since we were children.
Interviewer: Do you know anyone from your clan who joined ISIS? What were the reasons behind this?
Unfortunately, yes, there are many people from the clans and from al-Anbar who joined ISIS. They were fooled due to unemployment. They were lured by money.
I hold government officials responsible for this. If they had good intentions to embrace all the sons of Iraq and keep them within a unified country, none of this would have happened.