Baghdad, 13 June (AKI) – An al-Qaeda cell composed of children under the age of 16, known as “Children of Paradise”, is believed to be responsible for a growing number of attacks in Iraq.
Statistics from Sunni militias loyal to the government estimate 60 recent attacks have been carried out by these young people who have been brain-washed by al-Qaeda terrorists based in villages along the Tigris River.
According to sources from the Awakening Council or US-backed Sunni tribal militias, quoted in the Arab newspaper al-Hayat, the group of aspiring suicide bombers are extending their range and have moved into the area of Tarimiya, north of Baghdad.
They are also reportedly operating in other areas in the Sunni province of Diyala and in the eastern part of the capital.
The Iraqi army has noted a rise in attacks carried out by children or women from 2007 to 2008.
In the last year they are believed to have carried out at least 16 suicide attacks and 200 other bomb attacks.
Leader of the Awakening Council of Tarimiya, Mahir Abu Sufiyan, followed a 10-year old boy, Bakr, who was selling gas cylinders in the area.
His life changed drammatically when he learned his brother had been killed while he was taking part in a jihadi action with an armed group.
“Since that time he distanced himself from his friends and began to attend isolated camps in Tarimiya where there were two 25-year old terrorists who taught him and other boys how to use arms and explosive devices,” he said.
“The training lasts a month and then they are assigned a task and a target for an attack.”
Al-Qaeda is recruiting children, in particular those orphaned by the war, but many parents have also received sums of money for allowing their children to enter the groups.