When the boys first arrived at the Islamic State training facility in eastern Mosul they would cry and ask about their parents, who went missing when the militants rampaged through northern Iraq in 2014.
But as the weeks passed they appeared to absorb the group's ultra-hardline ideology, according to a worker at the former orphanage where they were housed.
The children, aged from three to 16 and mostly Shi'ite Muslims or minority Yazidis, began referring to their own families as apostates after they were schooled in Sunni Islam by the militant fighters, he said.
The boys were separated from the girls and infants, undergoing indoctrination and training to become "cubs of the caliphate - a network of child informers and fighters used by the jihadists to support their military operations.
Girls were "married off" to jihadis.
As I mentioned before, this smacks of the work of Saddam's Islamicized lads in ISIL, given that there were "Saddam's Cubs" before we destroyed the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003.
So even after ISIL's caliphate is defeated, they've sown the seeds of depravity to poison the future.
Because sometimes it takes a child to raze a village, eh?
This problem of indoctrinating hate in children is larger than just ISIL, of course.
Why every Westerner isn't a committed anti-jihadist is beyond me. Jihadis are evil and need to be killed.