The video is chilling: a jihadist from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, al-Qaeda’s branch for those two countries, addresses a crowd of boys at a school in Syria, rallying them to jihad. The boys look to be about ten or twelve years old, and they eagerly participate in the lesson – which is all about how Muslims should wage war and slaughter infidels in order to defend Islam.
“The mujahideen are coming here, to Syria,” says the jihadist, telling the boys that they have come from “Egypt, from Chechnya, from Morocco, from the U.S., from Belgium, from China, from Russia, from Cameroon. … Who unites them?”
“Allah!,” the children dutifully reply.
The jihadist bats back a follow-up: “Why did they gather here?”
The boys aren’t stumped: “For the sake of Islam,” they answer readily.
That was what the jihadist wanted to hear, as he was ready to expand on the point – one gets the impression that he was asking the boys questions that they had been asked and answered many times before. “Islam,” he tells them, “unites everyone under one word, with no distinction between skin color, nationality, or anything. The entire Earth belongs to Allah. Islam elevates the Muslims and humiliates the infidels.”
Had he so desired, the jihadist could have pointed to Qur’anic sanction for the idea that Islam “elevates the Muslims and humiliates the infidels.” The Muslim holy book tells believers to “fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden” even if they are of the “People of the Book,” that is, primarily Jews and Christians, “until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.” (9:29)