Watch | Video appears to show children being trained for suicide missions
Young suicide bombers
Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), a notorious terrorist group in Pakistan, has released a video showing over two dozen children, including girls perhaps as young as 5, training for what are believed to be suicide attacks. This comes as extremist groups have been ramping up their war against Afghan, Pakistani and U.S. forces in the region, Circa has learned.
Little girls trained to kill
The nearly 12-minute propaganda video shows the children re-enacting violent scenes with adult members of the TTP. The re-enactments show what the terrorist group believes are acts committed against their people by the Pakistan Army and the United States.
Pakistani military officials and counterterrorism experts that spoke to Circa say the most alarming aspect of the video is the inclusion of young girls. There have been instances of girls being used as suicide bombers in the past, but this is the first time a video has surfaced that shows the training of a large group of young girls at once.
Retired Pakistani Army Brigadier Gen. Mehmood Shah, who formerly served as secretary of security for Federal Administered Tribal Areas, the border area dividing Pakistan from Afghanistan, told Circa that the re-emergence of the use of children is something Pakistani officials are monitoring closely.
“They are using children for suicide missions, most of the children we’ve seen up until now have been males,” said Shah. “We see these young girls now and it is being monitored closely. It would not be a completely new thing, but it would be rare.”
Walid Phares, an expert on foreign affairs and counterterrorism told Circa the use of children is unconscionable. "This is an incredible weapon, unfortunately," he said.
Phares noted the growing use of young female suicide bombers by ISIS in the Middle East, Al-Shabab in East Africa, and Boko-Haram in Nigeria. He said it appears the TTP, which operates in South Asia, is adopting similar tactics and that the propaganda videos are used to recruit more children.
“They are producing this material, not only for their own troops but to show it online and maybe other means - cassette, video, other - to other kids who are not with these children and that is where the danger lays,” Phares said.
“This is one of the most dangerous things happening. This is the indoctrination, not even the radicalization, the indoctrination of a mass of younger generations,” he added.
The children seen in the video are mostly under 10 years old. They are believed to have been taken by the TTP from Pakistan’s tribal border region and the Eastern province of Afghanistan, where poverty is overwhelming and security is limited. According to Pakistani military officials, the children’s training camp is believed to be in Afghanistan’s Eastern Nuristan region.