July 12, 2012: Strategy page
Afghan police recently captured three children (age 6, 12 and 17) carrying bomb vests and remote control detonators. Over the last few months, jailed Taliban revealed that the organization had recruited over 300 children (under 18) last year to be suicide bombers. That activity has apparently increased this year. The younger ones (12 and under) are not told that they were being used as suicide bombers. They were just equipped with an explosive vest (or told to lead a bomb laden donkey) and told to get close to foreign soldiers. A nearby controller would then detonate the explosives remotely. Several of these attacks were aborted when the kids figured out what was going on and went to the police or soldiers for help.
The Taliban suicide bomber operations have long been fueled largely by brainwashed students from Pakistani religious schools and Afghans convinced, deceived or coerced into carrying out an attack. But in the last few years getting these kids from Pakistan has become more difficult. Finding adult Afghans to fill in, at least competent ones has been very difficult. Suicide attacks are seen as a decadent Arab custom, not something an Afghan would do. Even kidnapping (taking one or more members of a family to coerce another to carry out a suicide bomb attack) works less and less frequently. The Iraqi Islamic terrorists went through the same pattern, and eventually ran out of suicide bombers. Actually, the quality of available bombers declined to the point where few effective attacks could be carried out. The same pattern is repeating itself in Afghanistan.