Islamic State’s slick propaganda videos have long included children, but its latest offering purports to show something different: an American child and supposed son of a U.S. soldier threatening President Trump.
The seven-minute video, titled “The Fertile Nation,” centers on a 10-year-old boy, identified only as Yousef, who says he moved with his mother to areas controlled by Islamic State two years ago.
“My father is an American soldier who fought the mujahideen [holy warriors] in Iraq,” Yousef, speaking with an American accent, says to the camera.
“I didn’t know much about Islam except the name. But when me and Mom came to the Islamic State, we started to learn the correct Islamic creed.”
The boy speaks rapidly and somewhat mechanically, as if reciting a memorized speech. He says he is in Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto Syrian capital. Clips of him are interspersed between footage of airstrikes on what is identified as Raqqa, which has been the target of a wide-scale U.S.-backed campaign to dislodge the jihadis.
While the child speaks primarily in English, he also uses some Arabic words, which he pronounces with what sounds like a native Levantine accent.
Yousef is also seen among Islamic State fighters preparing anti-aircraft cannons and donning what appear to be suicide belts.
Later on, Yousef, who is shown playing with another child, said to be an Iraqi from the Sinjar region, complains about the strikes as numbers of casualties flash on the screen and he speaks directly to President Trump.
“This is my message to Trump, the puppet of the Jews,” says Yousef. “This battle is not going to end in Raqqa or Mosul. It’s going to end in your hands.” Mosul is the Iraqi city that was recently reclaimed from Islamic State.
The video was released on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Times could not verify any of the claims made in it, including the background of the child.
Heather Nauert, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said at a press briefing Wednesday that she could not confirm that the child was an American..
“First and foremost, any child used in that capacity in an ISIS video, regardless of what is being done, is sick,” said Nauert, referring to Islamic State by one of its acronyms.
“We’ve seen ISIS use children the ages of some of our own children here as suicide bombers, as homicide bombers. It’s sick, it’s depraved, and it is another example of just how wrong and how evil ISIS is.”
Bulos is a special correspondent.