NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – A Palestinian morning news program last week featured two camouflage-clad youngsters, estimated to be eight or nine years old, reciting poetry and discussing their plans to become jihadists in the future.
Al Aqsa TV, a news station affiliated with the terror group Hamas, aired the segment featuring the young poet, Muhammad Ali Zakariya Al-Astal, and another boy who said he wanted to become an engineer so he could "blow up the Jews."
In the video, brought to light by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Al-Astal, who said his mother taught him the poem, was asked to recite it for the female interviewer. With an echo added to his microphone for a dramatic flair, he said:
"Oh Jerusalem, I shall redeem you with my soul and my blood. I shall liberate you from the Jews by means of the Al-Qassam Brigades, of course. I bring glad tidings to our prisoners: Salvation is near."
The interviewer told the boy that she hoped Allah would grant long life to his mother for teaching him the poem. She also asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.
"A member of the Al-Qassam Brigades," the boy said, as the interviewer smiled.
The Al-Qassam Brigade is the military wing of Hamas and recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States and its allies.
The interviewer then asked a second boy what he would like to be. He answered, "An engineer."
"An engineer? Why do you want to become an engineer?" She asked.
"So I can blow up the Jews," the boy said.
His answer, however, was somewhat corrected by the journalist.
"You want to blow up the Jews? No, you want to blow up the Zionists. You mean the occupation, right? Okay, so is that why you want to become an engineer?"
The boy nodded in agreement.
The interview concluded with a statement from a 12- to 14-year-old boy what he would like to say to the younger children. He told them to "keep waging jihad, and Allah willing, when you grow up, you will wage resistance against the Jews – the occupation. Bomb the occupation, and the Al-Aqsa mosque will be liberated. Allah willing."
Children reciting such poems and being interviewed about their future aspirations to wage jihad is not new for Hamas's television programming. In 2014, the same TV station aired a Sesame Street-like program called The Pioneers of Tomorrow.
In the clip, a Palestinian girl in a hijab interviews two small children. One of the children, a little girl, says she wanted to become a police officer so she could "shoot the Jews." The reporter smiled and said, "Good."
Egyptian TV has also carried programming featuring child preachers and baby-faced jihadists.