By Alexandra Zavis and Garrett Therolf
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
August 27, 2007
BAGHDAD — Child fighters, once a rare presence on Iraq’s battlefields, are playing a significant and growing role in kidnappings, killings and roadside bombings in the country, U.S. military officials say.
Boys, some as young as 11, now outnumber foreign fighters at U.S. detention camps in Iraq. Since March, their numbers have risen to 800 from 100, said Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone, the commander of detainee operations. The Times reported last month that only 130 non-Iraqi fighters were in U.S. custody in Iraq.
Stone attributes the rise in child fighters in the country, in part, to the pressure that the U.S. buildup of troops has placed on the flow of foreign fighters.
Fewer of them are making it into the country, he said, and the militant group Al Qaeda in Iraq is having a difficult time recruiting adults locally. Thus, it has turned to children.
…..The new education center replaces Camp Cropper’s one-room schoolhouse and accommodates all but 100 who are ineligible for school because they are severely developmentally disabled, ill or too militant.
The students, a quarter of whom are illiterate, study basic Arabic, English, math, geography and science in air-conditioned tent classrooms. Dubbed the House of Wisdom, the classrooms are surrounded by concrete walls topped with razor wire.
In daily civics lessons, the boys study Iraqi history and new government institutions. A team of psychiatrists will provide regular counseling. A large library will hold 4,000 volumes and already has English textbooks, computer manuals and a set of Harry Potter books translated into Arabic.
“We have quickly realized,” Stone said during an interview at the new site, “that most of these young men are victims not only of Al Qaeda [in Iraq], but also of their own illiteracy. Because they couldn’t read or write, they also couldn’t work, and unemployed young men are also angry young men, susceptible to the cunning arguments of extremists.”
Reminds me of this:
Islamic miscreants are being evicerated to the point of recruiting brainwashed children or coercing them by kidnapping and threatening their families. I’m surprised that the left-leaning Los Angeles Times actually reported this, but there’s been no comment from the likes of the ACLU, Amnesty International, the U.N. , or any of the multitude of anti-war fringe groups.
The United States Army is combatting this with education and humanitarain aid, but there will come a time when there will be no choice but to shoot when confronted by a bomb-strapped kid with blood in his eyes. There isn’t but a split second to make a life or death decision. You can bet your ass that there’s no time to defuse the explosive in time to save the life of the adolescent terrorist, or yours. What do you do? Try to talk him out of it? Harsh as it may seem to the average civilian, barring the surrender of the little jihadist, the Soldier would have no other choice but to shoot.
Of course, this is wonderful propaganda fodder for the anti-war Left and al Qaeda.
Just imagine the headlines in the New York Times: “American Soldiers deliberately kill Iraqi children”, and blaming us for the plight of the poor terrorists being forced to use kids against the “occupation troops”.
Forget that the Islamic extremists use children, among their other victims, for target practice on a daily basis, but we’re the bad guys. When the enemy starts using kids as human bombs you know they’ve reached the abyss of atrocities.