This is actually not altogether surprising. Back in 1998, Bin Laden declared that “we find that the only age group capable of giving and waging jihad is the 15-25 age bracket” (The Al Qaeda Reader, 267). According to Ayman Zawahiri: “Let the Muslim youth not await anyone’s permission, for jihad against the Americans, Jews, and their alliance of hypocrites and apostates is an individual obligation, as we have demonstrated [based on an Ibn Taymiyya fatwa],” (Ibid, 114).
“Al Qaeda Expanding Recruitment of Children,” by Farhan Bokhari for CBS News, July 4:
Al Qaeda has successfully established a network for recruiting boys as young as 12 from across central Asia as it seeks new volunteers to enlarge its team of prospective suicide bombers and militants fighters, senior security officials from the Middle East have revealed to CBS News.
News of al Qaeda venturing into the former Soviet central Asian republics with a population that has a largely Muslim heritage marks a significant addition to reports earlier this year that the hardline group had recruited young boys in the Pak-Afghan border region.
Last May, a senior Pakistani security official showed a rare video clip to CBS News documenting a boy, barely 12 years old, using a machete to severe the head of a middle-aged man whom militants probably suspected as being a spy for the U.S.
In an execution which typified the Taliban brand of quick justice, that boy severed the head of his victim who was completely tied up and thrown on the ground as a crowd of hundreds of spectators cheered.
The mountains visible in the background of the video suggest that it was carried out in the rugged terrain somewhere in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“The effort to recruit young boys for the cause has been extended to central Asia. We have reports that this effort may now be up to two years old,” said one senior Middle Eastern security official who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity.
He said al Qaeda appears to have had more success in central Asian countries such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – the two states at the center of Islamic militancy – compared to other central Asian republics.