This article by the Guardian UK is not the first story about child soldiers being recruited in Iraq by terror groups and/or militias. But the growing evidence that they are being coerced into serving as suicide bombers is alarming.
A raid on a major al-Qaeda hideout north of Baghdad has uncovered evidence of a network of child suicide bombers who have been coerced into launching terror attacks across Iraq. A blueprint for the training and recruitment of children was stored on a computer memory stick found on the body of an emir of al-Qaida in northern Iraq after he was killed in an assault on his underground hideout in mid-November.
The article reports on two recent events where children – one 13 and the other 10 years old – detonated themselves in attacks against U.S soldiers in Diyala and in Tarmiya.
The child assassin sprinted towards the sheikh as he stepped from his front gate, but tripped on his flip-flops several metres before his target and exploded his bomb prematurely. The sheikh lost one leg and is recovering in a US hospital.
The article also talks about children are being used by insurgents as a way to bypass security checkpoints.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative for children and armed conflict, expressed concern at the growing evidence of child exploitation and recruitment by armed groups in Iraq, calling them “the silent victims of the ongoing violence.”