I guess martyrdom has lost its luster in Afghanistan and Pakistan, just as it did in Iraq. Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has had to come up with another supply chain for suicide-bomber attacks, and he’s certainly thinking out of the box. Instead of convincing adults to blow themselves up for radical Islam, Mehsud has instead started buying children:
Pakistan’s top Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, is buying children as young as 7 to serve as suicide bombers in the growing spate of attacks against Pakistani, Afghan and U.S. targets, U.S. Defense Department and Pakistani officials say.
A Pakistani official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because of the sensitive nature of the topic, said the going price for child bombers was $7,000 to $14,000 – huge sums in Pakistan, where per-capita income is about $2,600 a year.
“[Mehsud] has turned suicide bombing into a production output, not unlike [the way] Toyota outputs cars,” a U.S. Defense Department official told reporters recently. He spoke on the condition that he not be named because of ongoing intelligence efforts to catch Mehsud, a prime target for a U.S. and Pakistani anti-Taliban campaign.
Mehsud is a careful consumer of little boys and girls, according to Pakistani sources. He only pays top dollar for choice children, depending on how quickly he expects to murder them and how easily he thinks they can infiltrate his targets. His supply lines consist mainly of kidnapping rings that abduct children to feed Mehsud’s demand.
Having young boys fight among mujahedeen is not new in Afghanistan. During the Soviet occupation, young boys routinely joined armed bands to fight, and the same has been true on both sides of the Taliban wars since then. Unlike in other parts of the Muslim world, though, suicide bombings have not been part of the custom in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and certainly not with children. Mehsud has offended many with this new tactic, even in the areas where he would normally find natural allies.
It may show a desperation on Mehsud’s part, too. He may have lost too many of his forces to waste fighters on suicide-bomb attacks, and cannot recruit any other way than to kidnap children. Hopefully, that will prove a very temporary stage until someone puts Mehsud out of the world’s misery. One Pakistani official says that “there will be no tears for Mehsud in Pakistan when he is killed,” as he almost was last week in an American attack on a Taliban funeral. Certainly the parents of the region will have reason to celebrate the death of a monster.