Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

Dr. Bruce Dayton


It is necessary to draw on different strategies rather than military methods in order to challenge and delegitimize ISIS extremist narratives in Iraq. This study proposes the hypothesis that oral storytelling from former Iraqi ISIS child soldiers plays a key role in changing youths’ perspectives and contributes to preventing their peers from joining ISIS. The research was executed through a quasi-experimental design and comparison of data through a pre and post test during a one-week timeframe. The study examines oral storytelling from former Iraqi ISIS child soldiers as a counter-strategy to expose ISIS recruitment propaganda and false narratives. I used a qualitative research method and participatory action research approach with four Iraqi participants (n=4) aged 16-18 years. Data was collected through virtual interviews. The findings of this study indicate the transformative power of oral storytelling on participants’ perspectives and attitudes and the impact of spoken words on combating ISIS false narratives. It enabled the participants to humanize and sympathize with former child soldiers. Furthermore, the data provided by the participants identified the reasons behind their lack of exposure to former Iraqi ISIS child soldiers’ stories as socioeconomic status and sociocultural characteristics. Accordingly, the data offered ways that oral storytelling, as a post-conflict initiative, can serve as a powerful prevention tool in amplifying former Iraqi ISIS child soldier stories and spreading mass-awareness through broadcasting these stories on TV, radio, and inviting them to speak in their local communities.

Keywords: ISIS, Extremists, Child Soldiers, Recruitment, Oral Storytelling, Narrative, Youth, Iraq