The Boko Haram terror group is intensifying its recruitment of children as suicide bombers and soldiers, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported Tuesday.
Citing “recent research,” ICC said that the Islamist militants are targeting young children to act as suicide bombers, while seeking older children to serve either as suicide bombers or soldiers.
To entice young recruits, Boko Haram promises “protection, purpose, food and security” in return for services, ICC noted, and for many of these indigent children, the offer can seem too good to pass up.
One 15-year-old boy said in 2018 he had built 500 bombs for Boko Haram since his abduction at age ten, one of a mass of Nigerian children whom the jihadists have used as child soldiers, cooks, engineers, and suicide bombers.
Already in 2015, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported an increase in the use of children for suicide attacks in Nigeria by Boko Haram and other Islamic terror groups.
“Children are not instigating these suicide attacks; they are used intentionally by adults in the most horrific way,” said Jean Gough, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria. “They are first and foremost victims – not perpetrators.”
Of 27 suicide attacks that took place in the first five months of 2015, UNICEF said “at least three-quarters” of those attacks involved women and children.
“Many children have been separated from their families when they fled the violence, with no one to look after them,” continued Gough. “Without the protection of their families, these children are at greater risk of exploitation by adults, and this can lead to involvement in criminal or armed group activities.”
Photos emerged that same year of a Boko Haram training camp for child soldiers, showing young children in formation holding AK-47 rifles.
Late last year, Boko Haram jihadists hacked to death a 12-year-old Christian schoolboy with machetes for refusing to become a “child soldier” of the group.
The boy and his mother escaped from their home as the militants began their raid on the village, but the jihadists eventually caught up with the boy and killed him after hearing of his unwillingness to join their army.
As part of their training program, Boko Haram militants reportedly instruct their young male recruits how to sexually assault women, both as a means of terror and an incentive for the young militants.
As part of their formation program, jihadi leaders rape women and young girls captured during raids in front of the boys to provide a visual lesson of how to subdue a struggling victim during sexual assault, reports revealed.