Now they're reportedly buying - and even kidnapping - mentally retarded kids, to use in combat operations.
IRIN, a UN humanitarian news agency via Iraqslogger, profiles one such 13-year-old mentally handicapped child who was allegedly sold by his father to al Qaeda for $10,000:
“I don’t have a mother and never went to school. I was dreaming of a day that I would go to school like my other brothers, but I was considered different. My father was always telling me that I was a mistake in his life, a boy that was just bringing expenses and problems,” Barak [not his real name] said.From al Qaeda's point of view, they're just doing this kid a favor. As IRIN reports:
"We're giving him the chance to be useful and not suffer daily beatings from his father. Here, with us, he gets Islamic lessons and is soon going to be a good fighter and maybe one day even become a suicide bomber in the name of God,” Abu Ahmed [who claims to be a spokesman for al Qaeda] said.According to IRIN, this is by no means the first time a mentally handicapped child has been used by insurgents in Iraq:
“Some children were given by their families but many others were kidnapped by insurgents when they knew that those children had mental problems. Some of them were even taken from the doors of their houses or schools,” the NGO’s spokesperson said.
[...In one such case,] nine-year-old Saleh Ahmed (not his real name) said he was forced to help insurgents after they forced their way into his home and threatened to kill his mother and sisters if his father did not hand him over. “They told me to say that I’m happy working with them but it's not true. I want to go back home and stay with my mother,” Saleh told IRIN in privacy. When his trainer, Abu Ahmed, returned to the room, Saleh changed his tune and said he was happy to fight US forces and would die to save his country.