Al Qaeda has adapted the African
and Asian practice of recruiting "child soldiers." This system consists of
kidnapping young (8-10 years old) male children and turning them into soldiers.
This is largely possible because of the availability of cheap assault rifles
(mostly AK-47s). These ten pound weapons require little maintenance, and are
easy to use. Thus you can easily turn a kid into an effective killer. Those
that refuse or prove incapable, are simply killed. The children are ignorant
and easily indoctrinated. A dozen adults can control several hundred kids in
this way. The child soldiers are inept and undisciplined, and usually flee when
faced by trained soldiers. But if well led and disciplined soldiers are not
present (very common in many parts of the world) the system works.
is looking for suicide bombers, not gunmen, and has found that young tribal
kids (10-14 years old) in Pakistan will believe some pretty strange stuff. For
example, al Qaeda recruiters have been able to convince kids from madrasses
(religious schools) that they can carry out a suicide attack that will not kill
them. The recruiter alludes to some kind of magic, and the kid falls for it.
Afghan police have caught some of these kids, who are brought over from
Pakistan to carry out their attacks. There have also been some attacks using
these kids, and these have usually been sloppy and ineffective. It's also been
noted that sometimes the kids figure out that they're being fed lies, and try
to get away (sometimes successfully).
has been using child suicide bombers in Iraq as well, which has gotten a lot
more publicity. Not that this hurts al Qaeda, which has, for the last few
years, been one of the most hated and despised groups in the Moslem world.