Forcibly recruited by Taliban: A big challenge says Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed
There are many more, says Pakistan
Posted July 29, 2009
ISLAMABAD: Security forces have rescued several children forcibly recruited by the Taliban, allegedly to be used as fighters or suicide bombers, and there could be hundreds more like them, an army official said Tuesday.
The claim came as a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into a checkpoint in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region, causing an explosion that killed two police and wounded five security officials, authorities said.
Pakistani troops are engaged in offensives against the Taliban in various areas along the lawless border with Afghanistan, fighting militants often drawn from among the local communities.
A big challenge, says General
Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed, who heads a special support group tasked with handling the return of people displaced by three months of fighting in the Swat Valley and surrounding areas, said he had met nine boys rescued from the Taliban.
“They have been brainwashed and trained as suicide bombers, but the nine who I met seemed willing to get back to normal life,” he told Pakistani state-run television. He said the children had told him there were many more, possibly hundreds, like them.
“It seems that there are some 300 to 400 such children who the Taliban had taken forcibly or who they were training,” said Lt. Gen. Ahmed.
He did not say how the nine boys he had met had been rescued. A psychiatrist would examine the children to recommend how they should be reintegrated into society, he said. “It will be a big challenge” to reverse the indoctrination they received, Lt. Gen. Ahmed noted.
He said the boys had sometimes been lured by offers of food, but that they had been underfed and some had fallen ill.
Late on Monday, North West Frontier Province Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour said security forces had rescued dozens of children aged 6 to 15 who the Taliban were allegedly training as suicide bombers.
Forcibly recruited by Taliban
“They are prepared mentally. They say that Islam is everything for them. They say they are doing it for Islam. They say they have to carry suicide attacks for the sake of Islam,” Mr. Bilour told Private Geo TV. He said he did not have a specific number, but that there were dozens and that the government would do its best to help the youths.
“Around 15 of them are already in the process of rehabilitation in an army school in Mardan,” he said, referring to a north-western town. “They are brainwashed to such an extreme that they are ready to kill their parents who they call infidels.”
On Sunday, authorities in Swat’s main town of Mingora presented several teenagers alleged to have been forcibly recruited by the Taliban. Seven boys, their lower faces covered to prevent them being recognized, were shown to reporters.
One, a 16-year-old Shaukat Ali, said the militants abducted him while he was playing cricket. He said they told him they wanted him to be “a warrior” and offered to pay his family for his services.
The latest suicide attack targeted a checkpoint some two miles (three kilometers) north of Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, local government official Rehmat Ullah said.
North Waziristan is proving to be a trouble spot for the Army just as it is in the initial phases of an offensive against Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in neighbouring South Waziristan. — AP