Small soldiers causing huge problems: Taliban’s innocent young recruits


Brainwashing innocent young children into explosive-laden suicide bombers is a technique the Taliban have been using for more than a decade.
“It was two years ago when a man gave me a heavy bag tied with wires and connected to a button. The man told me that whenever I saw security personnel around, I should get closer to them and press the button,” 16-year-old Sami Ullah said when interviewed Kandahar’s Sarpoza Prison.
Sami is one of the dozens of Afghan teenagers who were jailed for their alleged involvement in various crimes including robbery and drug trade. However, Sami’s case is different from the other inmates because he was for planning to carry out a suicide bombing against Kandahar’s Afghan security forces.
When the child prisoners were asked what crimes they had committed, most of them refused to answer and just looked at the reporters.
Sami, however, said he was innocent. He said he was misled by the Taliban, adding that he did not understand what a suicide attack meant.
Sami was lucky because he was not able to detonate the explosives handed to him by the Taliban. Before he could press the button of the device, he was arrested by the security forces.
“When I was arrested I was just 14-years-old, and I have been in prison since 23 months. I hate the Taliban because they deceived me and I could have blown myself had I pressed the device’s button,” Sami said.
Gul Mohammad, 17, was another would-be suicide bomber who was arrested in July last year in Kandahar City’s Zharay District which is 450 km south of Kabul.
“When I was 15, my father sent me to a Madrasa (religious school) in Helmand province. But the teachers there decided to send me to a Pakistani Madrasa so that I could improve my education,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad said that while at the Mawlavi Massoum seminary in Pakistan’s Quetta city, the mullahs told him that Afghanistan had been occupied by the US. “They sent me back with a suicide jacket to Kandahar and ordered me to carry out a suicide attack. Fortunately, I was captured by security forces and I am still alive,” Mohammad said.
The Taliban, who ruled major parts of Afghanistan for more than six years until they were driven out by a US-led military invasion in late 2001, staged a violent comeback in 2005 and have since then continued staging deadly ambuscades and suicide attacks against Afghan and NATO-led security forces. Innocent civilians are among the victims of the Taliban’s suicide attacks.
In the war-battered Afghanistan, children are suffering and are deprived of their rights mainly because of the war and the protracted conflicts.
Up to 231 children were killed and another 529 wounded as a result of the suicide attacks by the Taliban in the first half of the current year, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in its mid-year report released in Kabul in late July.
More than 4.5 million school-aged children in Afghanistan could not go to school due to variety of reasons, with security as the top reason, Afghan security officials said.
According to a UNAMA report, 1,319 civilians were killed and 2,533 others injured in violent incidents between January 1 and June 30 this year, a 23 percent increase in overall civilian casualties as compared with 2012.
Recruiting children as soldiers by warlords and their rival factions was common during the factional fighting in Afghanistan in the 1990’s until 2001.


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