Evan Williams Productions

Child Soldiers of the Caliphate


It's the cruelty that haunts me.


It's the fact that grown men could disfigure a 14-year-old boy the way they did in the name of a religious state and leave him in driving pain, poverty and despair for the rest of his life that I find the most upsetting.

These kinds of punishments have not been unknown, of course, but I had imagined they had been lost to the mists of the medieval period. Then again I think that's the point.


He was tied down and hacked at as a deliberate and clear warning to other children and teenagers not to resist ISIS and to remind them that by age 16 they are all expected to join the ISIS army in some form, either as spies and supporters or fighters.


This is the story of how ISIS is indoctrinating thousands of young children under its control with its extreme doctrine and putting them through rigorous military and psychological training to become the next generation of ISIS shock troops.

Syria: child soldiers of the caliphate


An exclusive film reveals how Isis in Syria and Iraq systematically recruits children as young as eight to become soldiers and suicide bombers, and exacts brutal punishment on those who defy them.


It's the cruelty that haunts me, writes Evan Williams.


It's the fact that grown men could disfigure a 14-year-old boy in the name of religion, and leave him in driving pain, poverty and despair for the rest of his life that I find the most upsetting.


Because he refused to join the Isis army, 'Omar' was tied down and had his hand and foot hacked off, as a deliberate and clear warning to other children not to resist Isis, and to remind them that by age 16 they are all expected to join Isis; either as spies, fighters or suicide bombers.

Punishments like these have been carried out by the so-called Islamic State before of course, but evidence of the use and abuse of children as a systemic, widespread and integral part of the their military machine is new. And so is the extent of the brutality and violence to which children are subjected on a near daily basis.

Best News & Current Affairs Programme: Dispatches: Nigeria's Hidden War


The key international news stories of 2014 focused on the Middle East and Ukraine, so Nigeria's Hidden War was both an aptly titled and incredibly revealing film.

The kidnap of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by hard-line Islamists shocked the world and put the spotlight on terrorist group Boko Haram. This film also revealed the other side of Nigeria's war on terror, and the actions of the Nigerian military, to which Britain and America give substantial military aid.

Uncovering the systematic human rights abuses by the Nigerian armed forces and the civilian militia working with them required months of digging and cross-checking. It ultimately resulted in powerful evidence that elements of the Nigerian state could be guilty of war crimes.

This was 'outstanding and courageous reporting of an extraordinary story', according to one judge. 'Revelatory and very brave,' said another.

After TX, several newspapers and electronic media outlets in both the UK and Nigeria picked up the story and cited the film. It has been sold in several European nations and Australia, and a version was broadcast in the US on the influential current affairs programme PBS Frontline.


Once a force for good, Nigeria's military, through militias, crosses border into darkness


Every week a new atrocity seems to strike the people of Nigeria's north, where government forces have fought a nearly five-year war with the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The world's attention briefly focused on Africa's most populous, and one of its wealthiest, countries in April when Boko Haram - whose name crudely translates to 'Western influence is sinful'- abducted 300 schoolgirls, apparently dispersing many to the service of leaders in its sphere of influence, which now stretches to neighboring Cameroon's border.


Boko Haram has been emboldened by the success of Islamic State, observers say, and like IS, the group has declared an intent to create a 'caliphate,' a religious state where governing principles are interpreted from the Koran. In Boko Haram's case, the caliphate would be in Nigeria's north. The group has been known to massacre the inhabitants of entire small villages, using modern weapons or the ancient terror of beheading, and not sparing women or children.

‘Hunting Boko Haram’: Gruesome Videos Document Abuses In Nigeria


Dozens of gruesome videos appear to show horrifying abuses by Nigerian security forces and state-sponsored militias as part of a battle against the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. The existence of the videos was revealed in 'Hunting Boko Haram,' a new documentary by PBS Frontline.


Desperate to combat the rise of Boko Haram, Nigerian authorities launched a massive crackdown against the group in 2009 called 'Operation Flush'. Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have long accused security forces of committing massive human rights violations during the operation, including kidnappings, torture, extrajudicial killings and the arrests and murders of countless of civilians with no ties to the insurgent group.  (Hunting Boko Haram)

Uncovering Atrocities Committed By Nigerian Security Forces


Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group, gained international notoriety when it kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls from a village in northern Nigeria last May, but it has been carrying out a campaign of bombings and executions in Nigeria for more than five years.

Reporter/producer Evan Williams set out to investigate atrocities committed by Boko Haram, but along the way he uncovered a very different story. Video footage given to Williams by numerous sources appeared to show state-sponsored militias - and in some cases the Nigerian military - conducting brutal interrogations and even executions of civilians suspected to be Boko Haram members.

Williams talked to FRONTLINE about how he and his team found the story, how they verified the footage, and how they tracked down witnesses to corroborate the evidence.


Human Misery and Menace, Run Amok


The second subject 'Frontline' examines, the Boko Haram situation in Nigeria, has also been exacerbated by government failures.

Boko Haram, the radical Islamist group, has wreaked havoc on parts of Nigeria, most infamously by kidnapping scores of girls, an act that has brought worldwide outrage.

But Evan Williams, the producer and reporter of the segment, has secured a series of hard-to-watch videos that indicate that the hunt for Boko Haram has resulted in its own atrocities, apparently committed by the military and government-sponsored militias doing the hunting.

The videos show beatings and executions of people accused - often, Mr. Williams reports, without merit - of belonging to Boko Haram. The brutality, some witnesses say, has actually driven people to align with Boko Haram to escape these supposed saviors.

The possible responses to the Ebola outbreak are at least knowable. What the world should do about the horrors in Nigeria is far less clear.


TV Review- Unreported World- Review


An investigation teetering on the brink of despair focused on the Mexican woman with the hardest job in journalism.

In Unreported World (C4), Evan Williams talked to journalists who risk their lives every day, not as war correspondents, but as ordinary beat reporters in their own home town. Mind you, Ciudad Juárez in Mexico is basically a war zone, with statistics to rival any other. More than 3,000 people were murdered there last year. While two rival drug gangs - the Juárez and Sinaloa cartels - fight to dominate the lucrative supply routes to the US, whole areas of the city have been abandoned; 400,000 people out of a population of 1.5m have fled.


In an investigation that teetered on the brink of despair, Williams shadowed El Diario's Luz Sosa as she went round the city tallying up the day's killings. She knows the risk she's taking reporting the cartels' crimes: 50 journalists have been murdered in Juárez in the last four years, including her immediate predecessor at the paper. When she covered the killing of one El Diario's own photographers, the article was left next to a severed head as a warning.


The Making of 'Orphans of the Storm'


Burma is one of the most secretive nations on earth, a tightly controlled tropical North Korea, ruled for the past 47 years by one of the world's toughest military regimes.


It's a country where almost 2000 political prisoner are serving jail sentences of up to 65 years, where democracy demonstrators including Buddhist monks are beaten and shot and where the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is being sent to jail after almost 14 years of isolated house arrest. We knew this was going to be a tough assignment but we had no idea how hard it would actually get.


When Cyclone Nargis smashed into Burma's Irrawaddy Delta just over a year ago it killed at least 150,000 people and left two million homeless. It also left many thousands of children orphaned in the wake of the deadliest storm ever to hit Burma.

Telegraph: Burma: the children of Cyclone Nargis


A year after Cyclone Nargis devastated Burma, many orphans are still fending for themselves. Their story is only now being told after documentary filmmakers risked 30 years in jail to defy the junta's blackout.


On May 2 2008, at about 6pm local time, Burma was struck by the worst natural disaster in its history. Unleashing winds of up to 135mph and triggering flood waters that surged to 16ft, Cyclone Nargis tore across the Irrawaddy Delta in southern Burma and swept up through Rangoon, leaving roughly 140,000 dead and 2.4 million displaced or severely affected.


Among the survivors were tens of thousands of children, orphaned or separated from their parents, who in the immediate aftermath were left to fend for themselves.


A year later, some have been reunited with family members, some have been taken into orphanages and monasteries, and some have ended up in refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. But many children are still eking out an existence on their own, faced with the daily ordeal of accessing food and drinking water, while living in makeshift huts constructed out of bamboo and tarpaulin that offer scant protection from the impending monsoons.


Evan Williams Productions