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Taliban insurgents are lying to Afghan families, telling them they will educate their sons, but instead they train and brainwash them to carry out suicide attacks, according to officials.
KABUL – Several recent arrests indicate the Afghan Taliban are increasing the use of boys in suicide attacks because of frustration over their inability to recruit adults, officials and analysts say.
Afghan police in Panjwai District of Kandahar Province November 16 arrested a 12-year-old would-be suicide bomber from Pakistan, Attaullah Gul, and his alleged handler, Haji Ubaidullah, a November 17 Kandahar Governor House press release said.
Authorities arrested Attaullah, a resident of the Chaman area of Balochistan Province who received training in Pakistan, and Ubaidullah while they were on their way to carry out an attack in Kandahar Province, the statement said.
Security authorities in Laghman Province October 24 foiled several potential attacks by arresting Qari Usman while he was transporting 21 children to Pakistan for suicide bomber training, the authorities said.
Police turned over the children, all Nuristan Province residents between the ages of 7 and 15, to the Nuristan Province Peace Council (NPPC), which returned them to their families in the Doab region, NPPC Chairman Haji Halim told Central Asia Online.
Recruiting boys as soldiers
Taliban recruiters are deceiving families about their intentions, lying about their plans to give the boys a religious education when they actually plan to turn them into suicide bombers, officials and analysts say.
Militants often even resort to force, kidnapping impoverished boys who are susceptible to abuse, Khalid Khan, a special branch police officer, told Central Asia Online. And the militants have been known to molest the youngsters during their terrorism training, he added.
Children lack the maturity to make sound long-term decisions, Dr. Akbar Khan, a psychiatrist at the Peshawar Cantonment Board Hospital, said.
"They can be ... [induced] to do any act of violence including suicide bombings, as their mental state doesn't enable them to decide about such coercions," he said.
While Afghan forces apprehend many boys before they can carry out an attack, others change their mind at the last minute and surrender to the forces.
The National Directorate of Security has frequently shown repentant children to media.
Condemnation of child abuse
Afghan officials and civilians alike condemn the use of children to take the lives of innocent people.
Trusting Afghan families send their sons to Islamic schools in Pakistan but the Taliban and other militants train them to commit suicide attacks, Afghan resident Mohammad Amin said.
"Terrorists, disguised as teachers at these schools, deceive these children and youths by false promises of jihad and paradise," Amin said. "What they do is against the teachings of Islam."
The practice represents "oppression of Islam and cruelty toward children," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said, noting that such actions have killed innocent civilians.