Al-Qaeda’s Child Soldiers

Al-Qaeda’s longstanding use of children to wage jihad was on display in a recent video showing boys as young as five training with assault rifles and handguns at a terrorist training camp.

The video of the gun-toting, prepubescent jihadists was reportedly filmed by the al-Qaeda-linked East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) at one of the terror group’s training camps in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region.

Since 1990 the ETIM, which has been fighting to create an independent Islamic state in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, has not only committed more than 200 acts of worldwide terrorism but has trained scores of jihadists to fight alongside al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Like father like son, many of the young boys in the ETIM camp were reportedly orphans of slain al-Qaeda fighters coerced by their malevolent elders into carrying on their families’ jihadi business.

It should be noted that the use of child combatants is a worldwide plague practiced by a wide array of government, militant, insurgent and terrorist forces. In fact, it is estimated that most of the 300,000 boys and girls involved in the over 30 ongoing conflicts worldwide are less than 15 years of age.

Most of these child soldiers are either forcibly recruited — abducted at school, on the streets or at home — or have joined “voluntarily,” driven to enlist by a need to escape crushing poverty.

While some end up in government armed forces and civil militia, most find themselves serving in nongovernmental forces, such as terrorist and insurgent groups, with their combatant roles relegated to such activities as armed fighters, messengers, domestic workers and sexual slaves.

Yet, not surprisingly, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and its Islamist allies have taken their use of child combatants to a completely new and ruthless level, disregard that finds its expression in forced indoctrination and training that includes, among other things, using children as suicide bombers.

For example, al-Qaeda and the Taliban have constructed and operated a slew of suicide training facilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, death factories that have trained over 5,000 Pakistani children, many as young as eight, as suicide bombers.

The Islamist predilection for using children as human explosives can best be explained by the unfortunate fact that children make particularly good suicide terror candidates given that, according to one US intelligence report, “they are more willing to martyr themselves due to their lack of reasoning on taking innocent lives.”

That willingness to die is exploited by the Islamists through a variety of ways, including desensitization and brainwashing. As one Afghan official noted, “They are made to watch video films, showing physical torture and killing of Muslims women and children …by what they call infidels.”

Juvenile bombers are also told that great rewards are earned for performing such deadly deeds. As one youthful captured suicide bomber said, he was told by his instructors that as a good Muslim he had a duty to defend Islam and that “as soon as I blow myself up, I will be in heaven and will get eternal peace.”

For those who chafe at the idea of self-slaughter, the terrorists rely on the threat and use of violence to ensure compliance. Not surprisingly, the need to resort to violence to guarantee obedience comes from the fact that many child recruits don’t come to the jihad willingly, but are the victims of kidnapping by the terrorists.

That type of forced coercion has been disturbingly demonstrated by al-Shabab, Somalia’s notorious al-Qaeda-linked terror group that has gained a well deserved reputation for brutality in its efforts to remake Somalia into a Sharia-run Islamist state.

Specifically, an al-Shabab child terrorist training school was discovered earlier in 2012 by Somali government forces in the capital of Mogadishu. There, young children, all under 10-years-old, were found chained to beds where they were instructed in carrying out suicide bombings and other types of “martyrdom-operations.”

Of course, al-Shabab has found other creative uses for its underage recruits, some of whom are as young as seven years of age. After spending up to three months learning how to use heavy weaponry, including AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, graduates are sent to the frontline to serve as human shields to protect adult fighters.

Like most Islamist terror groups, al-Shabab either abducts its child recruits from their homes and schools or entices them by offers of free food and gifts. In some cases, however, the Islamists take advantage of a child’s grinding poverty by paying for his services.

In northern Mali, for example, Ansar Dine, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have paid over 1,000 children up to $30 a day and $400 a month to join their forces.

The use of child combatants is also gaining in popularity in Syria where a report by the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry found the rebel Free Syrian Army, laden with Islamist and al-Qaeda-linked terror organizations, forcibly recruiting children, some as young as eight-years-old, into their ranks.

Yet, as horrific as life is for a child ensconced inside the ranks of an Islamist terror outfit, children outside their deadly confines can still find themselves unsuspectingly used for lethal operations.

In one such particular case in July 2012, members of al-Qaeda in Yemen asked a 12-year-old boy to deliver a packaged gift to his father, a tribal sheik who was an outspoken opponent of the terrorist group. When the boy entered his house, he was killed instantly when the package exploded.

Sadly, the appetite by Islamist terror groups for child soldiers doesn’t appear to be satiating anytime soon given the favorable cost-benefit ratio their use entails.

As Abdul Rahman Barman, a Yemeni lawyer and child rights activist, has explained, “Children and adolescents can be managed easily and can be recruited to carry out terrorist acts at a lower cost because it is enough to tell them that they will end up in paradise to encourage them to die while conducting a terrorist operation.”

Unfortunately for these children, the gruesome reality of their violent deaths will most definitely trump the empty promise of the jihadist paradise painted by their heinous guardians.

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  • free Palestine

    Such a Lier. Your report is full of mistakes. You are trying to create a propaganda where alqaeda seems to be exploiting children in war zones which was started by westerns greed and unfairness. Then lets talk about the children abuse by western churches and the massive pedophiles networks that operates from America to Russia. Domestic violence against children in the west is rising according to UN reports. Children in the west die from alcohol related diseases. Now you coming to tell us your porkies about children who are defending their lands, people and believes. Go find a different job. I wonder how much they paid you to brainwash readers so your government continues its war on freedom and faith fighters?

    • Mo_

      Blah, blah, blah.

      May your blood cult of Islam one day be GONE from this earth, so that no more children will be abused and murdered in this manner. Those who exploit children in this way are the lowest scum of the earth.

      I WILL NOT SUBMIT!

    • jakespoon

      You follow a religion founded by a murdering,child raping,psychopath,your opinion on raising children really doesn't count for much with me.

    • Stand With Israel!

      Western greed and unfairness = God given liberty to be the best we can be and enjoy the fruits thereof. ~ UN reports = The number one propaganda arm of islamic sociiopath terrorists. ~ Freedom and faith fighter = freedom to enforce shariah law on all peoples, including, but not limited to forced mutilation of young girls genitals, forced marriages to pedophiles, beating women for the act of being in proximaty to a male that is not a relative, death squads to murder those who dare disagree with you, strapping explosives on women and children to further the cause of your so-called prophet, etc…….. By the way, Israel is a State recognized by the United States first and foremost. Palestine doesn't evem exist as we see it. It's nothing but a terrorist run piece of land who's majority would rather be under Israeli rule.

    • Mary Sue

      Happy Eternal Nakba, you idiot, I have PROOF that al quaida does such a thing. His name is Omar Khadr. He grew up in CANADA. He went over to Afghanistan which is NOT his land of origin, nor is it his to defend. EGYPT is. His father was a terrorist (and is currently rotting in hell as we speak). STFU you know nothing.

      If you're seriously defending terrorism you need to stop drinking the purple koolaid. Are you a white libtard from the NDP, or what? Speaking of pedophile networks, what about the Pashtun tribes where buggery is so prevalent the tribesmen's wives don't get pregnant because they are having anal sex with their wives and don't know the difference because they were all sodomized as young boys?

      I'm sorry but the tu quoque (literally "you [do it] too!") argument is a Logical Fallacy and will not fly here. Go back to school and take Logic 101 before contributing mindless drivel plzkthxbai.

    • RonCo215

      So, free palestine, are you denying that your people /muslims are doing this?! Typically, what you are doing is changing the subject. Islam should go the way of the dinasaur and becone extinct!

    • patron

      The moron's keyboard types, and having typed types on. Neither your piety nor wit can erase even one word of it.

    • Guest

      To compare the sick acts of isolated pedophile clerics (at a time where pedophilia was not talked about), or a few uncared-for children succumbing to alcohol, with systematically sending abducted and orphan children to self-explode and kill is… typical islamic "reasoning".

      Pedophilia is abhorrent, a repulsive disease, but children usually survive. Is it rising due to higher populations, moral decline, or simply more victims speaking out? Would marrying children to pedophiles solve the problem, as Muhammad did, and many of his followers continue to do?!!

      How about the rising jihad attacks all over the world, nearing 20,000 since 9/11? Each claiming from 1 to 100s of victims. Freedom and faith fighters? The freedom to explode in little pieces for not lusting after a 7th century MAJOR MENTAL CASE? Who had HUNDREDS of men beheaded for pure greed and lust? Leading to 1/4 billion deaths in his name?!

      What you're selling is not freedom and faith but the Psychopathic Lifestyle. Islam = the most systematic and destructive mind/heart cancer ever invented. Well done.

  • Eduardo

    Where is the UN hypocrite now?

    • Mary Sue

      oh yeah they'll cry about "Child soldiers" as long as it's in Africa, or they'll cry about how Omar Khadr was a "child soldier" and thus should be treated more leniently than say, Osama Bin Laden, but they'll ignore the actual active child soldiers in Palestine and other such places.

  • scotsirish

    Savages.

  • boltshaker

    Give it up Al Qaeda… you lose! Your influence and control on America and Americans will not have an effect on the US. Recruiting children shows that you are weak and powerless! USA 1 … Al Aqeda 0

  • EthanP

    This seems to be typical. Remember Iran using children to charge mine fields during their war with Iraq?

    Yet the UN and western media only seem to blame Israel. I'm sure you've noticed.

  • Ghostwriter

    Of course,what free Palestine doesn't mention is that the hideous indoctrination of kids to hate Jews and other non-Muslims simply because they exist. There are animated cartoons and other kids shows which indoctrinate kids with the same vile messages,that Jews are subhuman and don't deserve to exist. This idiot's not fooling anyone,least of all,me.

  • Jack_Wisdom

    "Free Palestine" is an ignorant and repugnant person. I pray that Christ will forgive you for your hate and demonic attitudes.

  • free Palestine

    Guys you make me laugh. The truth will prevail one day. If you leave Islam alone it will spread and if you fight Islam, it will become stronger. That's why jihad is spreading. Foolish people The west is the cancer feeding on the blood and wealth of our lands. I swear by Allah if we starve you of our oil you will go back to your dark ages were you will start eating each other. Like the 100 years fight between France and England. Also the millions who died in your stupid two world wars. To the people with knowledge remember US and ISRAEL are both the same they are built on the corps of other nations ie the indians and Palestinians. Don't judge Islam from your fake media and you corrupt politicians try to ready the holly quran and I promise you will find the truth. Islam is perfect so no need for any idiot to try and insult it have an open mind and the love of finding out the right path before its too late. May Allan guard us from any bad and guide the stray.

  • Ghostwriter

    That's the problem with you,free Palestine. You don't have an open mind. I have an earlier post that lists the awful things that happen in your beloved Palestine. You don't even answer them,you just attack us. Why don't you open YOUR own mind before asking the rest of us to do so.