At Large

Children As Human Bombs

A practice that remains under-reported and under-condemned.

By and 11.12.08

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On Monday, a 13-year-old female child blew herself up in central Baghdad, killing 28 and wounding 68. Among those killed were male and female students; a tragedy of immense proportions. Suicide-homicide attacks by female bombers, the handicapped, and children, the last often detonated by remote control, are an increasing trend this year. Sadly this latest example of perverse child abuse is a symptom of a much greater problem.

The incitement and recruitment of innocent Muslim children to become child soldiers, human bombs, and human shields is occurring in varying degrees throughout the Muslim and Western world. In Pakistan, Iran, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia, children are being systematically targeted through school textbooks, television programs, music videos, cartoons, the Internet, by their teachers and Imams, with hate propaganda aimed at building the next generation of Jihadis. These children are being harvested by terrorist groups like ripe fruit, driven across borders and detonated by adults as deadly political pawns.

U.S. intelligence analysts recently reported that Islamic terrorist groups are enlisting growing numbers of teenagers for their most violent and deadliest of missions. The Taliban is recruiting children as young as seven for their suicide missions, while approximately 20% of all Palestinian suicide bombings since the second intifada have been aged 18 and younger. During his last visit to the United States, Afghan President Karzai's pardoned a six year old who was told his bomb-belt would explode flowers. A couple of months ago, England's MI5 Seized DVDs being marketed to London-born Muslim youth encouraging them to commit violent suicide attacks, while Al Manar, a Hezbollah-run network, continues to be broadcast throughout the EU, preaching hate and enlisting children to murder for the sake of jihad

The Islamic Maghreb, an off-shoot of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network (AQIM), has gone as far as formally launching a group called the "Young People of Paradise," which has mobilized a collection of 14 to 16 year olds currently training for suicide assignments.

Islamic terrorist groups turning to children and the handicapped do so, in part, to thwart security checks, but the phenomenon may be a sign they are losing support among adult males, who may be realizing the futility of the act. Children also prove cheaper recruits than adults who demand significant payments for their surviving family members, and in the Palestinian context, for a house that may be demolished.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE SYSTEMATIC and intentional state-sponsored mass infanticide of Muslim children remains largely under-reported by the media and under-condemned by human rights groups. On Monday, the Anti-Defamation League hosted its annual conference, this time entitled "Is Peace Possible," at the Cardozo School of Law in New York City. Panelist, Shibley Telhami, an Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and board member of Human Rights Watch (HRW), was asked by an audience member about the role education plays in determining the future of a peaceful greater Middle East. Apprehensive of acknowledging the issue, Telhami shamefully blamed the questioner of accusing Palestinian parents of not loving their children and apologetically concluded that hate education wasn't as grave a problem as the questioner made it out to be.

Asked why HRW and other organizations have not consistently condemned or advocated against the use of Muslim children as human bombs, Telhami ignored the question. Such denial and refusal to condemn the practice unequivocally gives the green light to terrorists to continue this practice with impunity.

President-elect Obama has a moral duty to address the international problem of hate education aimed at Muslim children, a nonpartisan and central issue in this war on Islamist terror.

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About the Author

Brooke M. Goldstein is a New York-based human rights attorney, award-winning documentary filmmaker and the director of the Children’s Rights Institute. Her most recent film, The Making of a Martyr, was the recipient of the Audience Choice Award for Best Film from the United Nations. It documents the incitement and recruitment of Palestinian children to become suicide bombers.

About the Author

Danielle Goldstein is a second year law student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and is the co-founder and co-president of the Cardozo chapter of the Children's Rights Institute.