Teen suicide bombers are latest ISIS tactic
During the last six days, three children have detonated themselves or attempted to do so — one on Saturday in the city of Shirkat, 70 miles south of Mosul, and two teens in Kirkuk.
The Islamic State group is depending on young boys, known as “Ashbal Al-Khilafa” ("Cubs of Caliphate"), to conduct its suicide attacks because of the lack of available adult terrorists, according to the Arabic-language Hawar, a Kuwaiti news site.
“ISIS has 3,000 boys aged 8-12, mostly Syrians, who have finished their religious and military training and have been taken to the front,” Hawar reported last week.
More has been learned about Hussein Radhi Alwan, a 13-year-old boy who was filmed Sunday evening in the center of Kirkuk while he was trying to detonate his vest bomb near the Al-Hussainiya mosque.
Hussein was captured and disarmed before he could detonate. His 15-year-old brother was not so lucky: he exploded himself at the mosque a few hours earlier. Hussein, described as “frantic” by Kurdish police, mentioned to police afterward that masked Islamic State group soldiers recruited him and approximately 50 other boys between the ages of 8 and 15, to attack targets in Kirkuk.
According to the boy’s statements to Kirkuk police, the boy’s father, an Islamic State group supporter, ordered his sons to kill themselves.
“From what I have heard from sources who work in the camps for internally displaced people (IDPs), the parents were promised several hundred dollars for the suicide duty of their sons,” said Walid Ramzi, an NGO employee who works in Kirkuk and Erbil.
Both teens had fled Mosul and settled into the Kirkuk camps for IDPs a few weeks ago.
“The citizens are still in shock after the bombing attacks in the center of town, after months of apparent calm,” according to an email to AMI Newswire from Mohamed Baghat, an NGO worker who takes care of youth in the IDP camps in Kirkuk.
“The people of Kirkuk are discussing among themselves the need to prevent the IDP families from having easy access to the city,” Baghat wrote. Kirkuk has the second-largest number of IDPs in Iraq. The number of IDPs range from a minimum of 3,000 to more than 5,500 according to Kirkuk residents.
“The worrisome thing about this trend is that children and teens often don’t get screened by Iraqi police at checkpoints, which is the reason Daesh [another name for the Islamic State group] is taking advantage of them,” said Sada.
The Islamic State group published on Saturday photos of a suicide attack conducted by another boy in his early teens on Iraqi forces south of Shirqat, 70 miles south of Mosul.
“Increasingly, ISIS has been using kids as suicide bombers. The jihadists were using kids even during the time of al-Qaida in Iraq, but now they have thousands of them,” Sada said in an interview.
“A Shia militia commander said Wednesday that Daesh is searching for three teenage suicide bombers who escaped from a house in which they were imprisoned in Hawija, a Sunni stronghold 30 miles southwest of Kirkuk,” said Sada.
“In fact, if ISIS were keeping these teens in jail, it likely means that they were ISIS soldiers who were scheduled for execution anyway, and they had agreed to serve as suicide bombers,” said Ramzi by telephone in Erbil.
The Islamic State group, during the last year, has executed hundreds of its own soldiers for infractions such as desertion or refusing to fight, according to the archives of Daesh Daily.
Dr. Ali Akram Al-Bayati, head of the Turkmen Rescue Foundation, explained to AMI Newswire that the jihadists have handled children of Turkmen parents either as commodities or as cannon fodder for the war machine.
“ISIS brought 25 Turkmen boys from an orphanage in Mosul, in March of 2016, to train them as fighters and suicide bombers,” he explained.
Children of despised minorities, such as Yezidis, Christians or Shia Turkmen, are used to raise ransoms of hard cash. “Our organization has helped ransom out 12 children held as captives by ISIS in Mosul or in Nineveh Province,” Dr. Ali said in an interview.
“The criminal groups who arrange these ransoms charge a few hundred dollars per head for children in Mosul but much more for children held outside of the city. We were able to purchase three Turkmen boys for $15,000,” he said.
“There are still 680 Turkmen women being held as sex slaves either in Mosul or Raqqa, and around 120 Turkmen boys and girls are also in captivity,” he said.
“According to our information, some of the 120 children are being recruited for terrorist operation, yet regrettably there have been no serious steps from the international community to address this serious threat,” he wrote in a text.
More than 416 women and children were kidnapped by the Islamic State group in early 2015, according to Iraqi Turkmen MP, Nahla Hussein, who disclosed these numbers in a press statement on April 7, 2015.
The Islamic State group is "training the kidnapped children on fighting techniques and mines preparations after killing their families," Hussein wrote.
Douglas Burton is a former U.S. State Department official in Kirkuk, Iraq and writes news and commentary from Washington, D.C. queries to Burtonnewsandviews@gmail.com call him at202 203 9883