A 12-year-old boy surrendered to Afghan authorities in Nangarhar province after he decided not to carry out his suicide mission.
Authorities took him to Jalalabad, the capital of the province. The young boy told them he trained in Pakistan, where people taught him that “all Afghan forces were infidels.”
However, he changed his mind “after witnessing the Afghan people are offering prayers and there are plenty of mosques open in the country.”
“We were told that all Afghan troops are infidels. I thought that they might really be infidels, but then I saw that they pray in mosque. That’s why I changed my mind,” he stated.
He added, “They showed us pictures of Jihad and were talking about oppressions [of Afghan forces]. Once they asked who wants to go to Jihad and I raised my hand and said that it is better to be martyred.”
The jihadists tell children that Afghanistan does not rule under Islamic law as a way to brainwash them and others to commit terror attacks.
“Indoctrination forms 60 percent the issue and the environment and society plays a 40 percent role. However, they [Pakistani madrasas] are brainwashing children and youth to the extent that will deliver on their target by 100 percent,” explained Khairuddin Khairkhwah, a lecturer at a local university’s psychology faculty.
In 2014, the BBC documented ways the Taliban raises child suicide bombers. They view children “as more ‘recruitable’ – easily influenced to carry out an attack and rarely suspected by security forces.” Authorities arrested more than 250 children in the past ten years. “Naqibullah says his handlers told him he would go to heaven and all his problems will end. Officials say children are offered a path out the boredom and drudgery of poverty by preachers with promises,” the BBC reports:
Although confessions obtained from juveniles can sometimes be unreliable, they provide chilling accounts of how they were persuaded.
- They are told that Afghan girls and women are raped by “invading foreign forces” and that the Koran is being burned by Americans
- The children are told that it is their religious duty to resist the “infidel” coalition forces and that they and their parents will go to paradise
- They are told that the Afghans they intend to kill “deserve to die” because “they are not true Muslims” or are “American collaborators”
- Nevertheless, children are rarely told who their specific target is and why they deserve to die.
In some cases, they are simply lied to. Some were given an amulet containing Koranic verses and told it would help them survive. Some handlers gave children keys to hang round their necks and were told the gates of paradise will open for them.
A boy suicide bomber killed 31 Pakistani army cadets in 2011. Authorities found as much DNA as they could among the remains to determine the boy was between 12 and 15 years of age.
“If incidents like this happen — involving a child who is clad in a school uniform — the implications are wider now. We have to look into this aspect,” said senior police official Zeeshan Khan at the time.