Monday, August 27, 2007

U.S.: Children playing increasing role in kidnappings, killings and bombings

Left: A boy holds a piece of a British armored vehicle destroyed by a roadside bomb in Basra in April.

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 said some children have told interrogators that their parents encouraged them to do the militants' dirty work because the extremists have deep pockets.

Insurgents typically pay the boys $200 to $300 to plant a bomb, enough to support a family for two or three months, say their Iraqi instructors at a U.S. rehabilitation center.

About 85% of the child detainees are Sunni and the majority live in Sunni Arab-dominated regions in the country's west and north. In these deeply impoverished, violence-torn communities, the men with money and influence are the ones with the most powerful arsenals. These are the children's role models.

Read the rest at the LA Times

Related Link:
U.S. opens juvenile detention facility; Some 'detainees' as young as 11 years old