No doubt the Imam Rauf, Nihad Awad, Mustafa Akyol and a host of other Muslim luminaries are jetting over to Kabul as we speak, determined to explain to young Hannan that the Qur’an is actually a book of Peace and Tolerance, and doesn’t teach anything like killing Infidels as one would a dog. Aren’t they? No? They’re concerned only with convincing non-Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace, not their fellow Muslims who think it teaches violence? Now, why is that?
“Taliban tried to make eight-year-old a suicide bomber: Afghan rebels recruit starving orphans with sweets and 60p bribes,” by Nikki Murfitt for the Daily Mail, July 20 (thanks to Peter):
Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan are bribing starving children as young as eight years old to plant deadly roadside booby traps, be decoys in ambushes and even act as suicide bombers.
Despite the Islamic fundamentalists” claim they have no children in their ranks, extremists have been actively recruiting orphaned and homeless young boys and training them to use guns, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide vests.
In return, they ply the desperate youngsters with sweets and chocolate, an investigation for Channel 4″s Dispatches programme has learned.
Afghan orphan Neaz told how he was just eight when he was promised a handful of coins by Taliban fighters to convert him to their cause. The boy had been tending his father’s flock of sheep when coalition forces bombed his village.
“˜The Taliban were hiding in our house when a helicopter came and bombed us,” he said. “˜My father was hit in his heart and his head, he was torn apart. My mother was hit in the chest and died. I have no one.”
In the immediate aftermath of the raid, Neaz was kidnapped by Taliban leaders and taken to a nearby town and shown how to use guns and make IEDs. They plied him with sweets and he was initially delighted when they said they planned to bring him an extra-special gift — a suicide vest packed with bullets and grenades.
“˜They made me try it on. The grenades went all around my body and then they offered me the coins [50 Afghanis — about 60p],” he said. “˜They told me to blow myself up at a checkpoint. I asked what I’d do with the money if I had to blow myself up. But they kept encouraging me, telling me that if I did it I would go to heaven.”
He finally escaped and walked nine miles to turn himself in at a police station. Now aged ten, Neaz lives in an orphanage in Lashkar Gah.
Other children are less fortunate. There are 224 children in prisons in Helmand and Ghazni, arrested by government forces for planning or carrying out attacks.
Film-maker Najibullah Quraishi said: “˜Thousands of children are being recruited and taught to make bombs or become suicide bombers. It is common for 13-year-olds to carry guns. Less than ten per cent of the population is educated so these children don’t have their own minds, they only have what the mullahs are telling them in the mosques.”
Najibullah was given unprecedented access to a Â£500,000 British-built prison in Helmand, where the cells each hold 20 boys. One, Hannan, was 12 when he joined the Taliban following his father’s death in a US air strike.
“˜My father was in the Taliban. When he used a rocket-propelled grenade, I would ask him how it worked. This is how he taught me.”
After a year the youngster set up his own military cell with five friends, staging ambushes at night on remote roads. It was during one attack that he was arrested, and he has so far spent two years in prison.
Now aged 15, he says: “˜I am not looking for revenge for my father, I want to do Jihad for the sake of God. It is written in the Koran that you are allowed to kill infidels as you would kill a dog.”
Najibullah added: “˜I felt incredibly sad listening to Hannan and others. They are already dangerous men. When they leave prison they will be recruited for other campaigns. They are determined fighters.”
Most Afghans do not know their date of birth and the Taliban — whose code of conduct allows any male with facial hair to become a fighter — use the uncertainty to insist they don’t use children to fight.
Najibullah said: “˜Many believe there will be civil war and it won’t just be the Taliban recruiting children — all groups will target them. They are the fighters of the future and that is a problem not just for Afghanistan but for the world.”