The suicide bomber’s imagination leads him to believe in a brilliant act of heroism, when in fact he is simply blowing himself up pointlessly and taking other people’s lives. – Salman Rushdie
ISIS has released a propaganda video claiming to show a terror training camp for children called “Cubs for the Caliphate” with rows of boys as young as five shouting Allah Akbar. This is shocking and offends even the most jaded of us. It brings to the mind the shining cherubic faces of the Hitler Youth, their stiff arms raised in a salute as they shouted Sieg Heil. Childhood should be a time of joy and discovery of the good things in life. No child should be forced to learn how to kill in the name of a twisted ideology. These children will be trained to associate valor with torture, degradation and death. Unless they are rescued from this training soon it will be too late. They will never be able to function in normal society. The proof of this is in the hideous videos that have been released over the last several months of beheadings and burnings. These heartless savages are the result of being raised as these children are being raised, away from love and anything that is honorable by most of the world’s standards. When you look at the sweet, innocent faces of these children you are looking at the butchers of tomorrow who will need to be shot like rabid dogs in the street.
While I was in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai pardoned two dozen boys who had been arrested for planning or attempting to carry out suicide attacks –the youngest only eight years old. One 11-year old said his instructions were “just to get close to a group of foreign soldiers and touch these two wires together.” His Taliban trainers told him he would be able to detonate his vest and kill the foreign occupiers without dying himself. Many of the children were drugged before sending them on their missions.
The Taliban brainwashes these young children and they are very effective at convincing them that their religion sanctions what they are doing and they will be rewarded in heaven. After such intense brainwashing it is near impossible to deprogram them. One 15-year old said, “I am a Muslim, and there are still infidels in this land. With God’s help, I will continue to fight against them.”
The release of these children angered my dear Afghan friend and colleague, Javed. I remember saying, “But they are just children.” He said,” Kathy, these are not children like you know them. They have been taken out of their homes by the Taliban at very young ages with the promise of getting an education and a better life. They are taken to religions madrassas (schools) in Pakistan where they are drilled with hate and raised with no love. These children should be locked up for years and studied by psychiatrists and deprogrammed. And even then, they might not be safe to release.” He continued, “It is the parents who release their children to these maniacs who should be punished.” I have never forgotten that conversation and it was brought to the front of my thoughts with the release of the ISIS video.
While in Kabul I got the opportunity to visit the Kabul Zoo. Much to my surprise it was a beautiful and clean facility and as I strolled through the beautifully paved paths I reflected on how peaceful it seemed in a city littered by the skeletons of bombed out buildings. Then I remembered that only a few weeks prior to my visit the Taliban handed a package to an 8-year old girl and told her to carry it into a police station that was only a few blocks away from the zoo. The package contained explosives and was remotely detonated, killing only the innocent little girl.
ISIS using children to carry out heinous acts of terror unwittingly and training them to do them willing is nothing new. The terror group Boco Haram used a girl suicide bomber no more than ten years old to blow herself up at a busy market in Nigeria killing four others and seriously wounding 46 people. This is what the Western world must realize. Islamist terrorists respect no one—not women, children and not themselves. And nothing will ever convince me they love other Muslims and the Islam faith. These heartless savages are dedicated and prepared to have an endless supply of recruits to take their place. Like the Hydra, when one head is cut off, two more will grow back. This is why we must be vigilant. While many of the children’s psyches in these “Cubs of the Caliphate” camps are already too twisted to save, maybe, just maybe, we might be able to save a few and show them that the true rewards in this life come from living a peaceful, loving life. As each new Hydra’s head is cut off the stump must be cauterized so another cannot grow back. ISIS, Boca Haram, Al Shabab, Al Qaeda, Taliban, etc. must be destroyed and we must be vigilant to ensure no new heads can grow. That is the only way the world can be assured that children can hear the sounds of laughter instead of gunfire and explosions.