Security forces in Iraq stopped a young boy from detonating a suicide vest in the northern city of Kirkuk on Aug. 21.
The boy, who is around 12 years old, claimed ISIS forces kidnapped him and ordered him to detonate the explosives, according to the Daily Mail. The boy was wearing a suicide vest under a Barcelona soccer jersey and began to cry after the police arrived.
According to intelligence official Chato Fadhil Humadi, the young boy "claimed during interrogation that he had been kidnapped by masked men who put the explosives on him and sent him to the area."
Officials fear ISIS militants are increasingly using children to execute terror attacks. This incident comes only a day after another child suicide bomber detonated explosives at a wedding in Turkey, killing 54. According to the Turkish government, at least 22 of those who died in that attack were children, reports CBS.
It is estimated ISIS currently employs around 1,500 ISIS child fighters, according to CNN. While some of them are kidnapped and forced to carry out attacks, most have joined voluntarily.
"For the most part, what we're seeing is kids posing with a big smile and at least in one case saying goodbye to the parents," said ISIS researcher Mia Bloom.
The terror group fully intends to raise a new generation of militants, referring to children as "cubs of the caliphate." Parents are encouraged to give their children to ISIS. The children are then indoctrinated with the group's principles and are trained in combat.
"[Children] are not just being used to shock people in execution videos," says researcher Charlie Winter to CNN. "They are being used for their operational value as well. This is something that sadly we have to expect to increase and accelerate as the situation becomes more precarious for ISIS in the years to come."