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Al-Qaida's Child Victims

Major General Mohammad al Askari, a spokesman for Iraq’s Defense Ministry, says al-Qaida terrorists are using children as young as eight-years-old as suicide bombers. “Al Qaida is bragging about recruiting those children and making them bombs to kill the Iraqis,” said General Askari. Speaking through an interpreter, he said al-Qaida victimizes children in a number of ways:

“Its operations, as you know, include the kidnapping of the children and demanding ransoms for them. This is one of the methods they use to finance their operations.”

At joint briefing with U.S. Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, spokesman for the Multi-National Force in Iraq, General Askari showed a videotape of Iraqi security forces rescuing an eleven-year-old boy:

“His father is a simple man who works as a mechanic. He was kidnapped and the criminals wanted one-hundred-thousand dollars. In case they didn’t [pay], the child would be beheaded.”

Admiral Smith said coalition forces have captured videotapes used by al-Qaida to train young boys as terrorists:

“The videos show twenty or so boys, most believed to be under the age of eleven, being trained on how to carry out kidnappings and assassinations. The boys were supplied weapons ranging from pistols, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The video also shows the boys making statements promoting slaughter and declaring their allegiance to al-Qaida.”

“This is not the first time we observed such material,” said Admiral Smith, “but the volume and content was the most significant and disturbing we’ve found to date.” He said al-Qaida is making a concerted effort to recruit children. We've seen evidence, he said, "of al-Qaida entering schools disseminating propaganda. We also know that as many as five-thousand internet websites associated with al-Qaida, often target young people and children.”

Rear Admiral Smith said al-Qaida “sends fifteen-year-old boys and mentally handicapped women on suicide missions, builds car bombs and is trying to teach children how to kill.” The Multi-National Force, he said, stands with the Iraqi people “to rid this nation of extremism and terrorism.”