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Taliban Child Soldiers

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The Taliban has a history of recruiting child soldiers as young as 7 in their terrorist war against the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Evidence of the Taliban's tactics were recently brought to light with the Pakistani rescue of a group of children that had been forcibly recruited by the Taliban, purportedly to be used as fighters or suicide bombers.

Pakistani Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed heads the Special Support Group tasked with handling the crisis of those displaced by the 3 months of fighting in the Swat Valley. He met with several of the boys rescued from the Taliban. They had been brainwashed and many had been trained as suicide bombers, said Lt. General Ahmed. The boys targeted by the Taliban are often from poor families and are frequently lured by offers of food. Others are kidnapped off the street. There have also been credible reports that Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has been buying children to serve as suicide bombers.

The Taliban uses its extremist version of Islam to indoctrinate the children and turn them into suicide bombers. They are brainwashed to such an extreme that they say they are ready to kill their parents whom they call infidels.

Unfortunately, indoctrinating children to become soldiers is not a new phenomenon. The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers estimates that there are many tens of thousands of children exploited in conflict. Child soldiers exist in all regions of the world. According to the United Nations, 57 armed groups and forces were using children in 2007, up from 40 in 2006. The latest U.S. State Department report on Human Trafficking notes that while the majority of child soldiers are between the ages of 15 and 18, others are as young as 7 or 8, which is unlawful under international law.

Rescuing child soldiers forcibly recruited by the Taliban gives them a second chance at childhood. The U.S. believes all nations must work together with international organizations and non-governmental organizations to take action to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate these children turned soldiers.