Al-Qaeda is using children as suicide bombers in Iraq, with at least two attacks in the past week committed by 15-year-olds, a US military commander claimed on Sunday.
“We are not sure whether one of these children even knew he was being used to deliver a bomb,” Rear Admiral Gregory Smith told a news conference in Baghdad. One attack was carried out at a funeral ceremony near Tikrit, executed dictator Saddam Hussein’s home town 180-km north of Baghdad and the other was at a school in the northern city of Mosul, Smith said.
He gave no details of the two bombings. Iraqi police said 17 people died in a January 21 suicide blast at the funeral ceremony near Tikrit for relatives of an Iraqi police colonel. “Al-Qaeda in Iraq is trying to brainwash children with hate and death… they seek to create a culture of violence, hate and despair,” said Smith.
“(They) are sending 15-year-old boys on suicide missions to spread death and helplessness.” Smith quoted Sheikh Ahmed Abu Reesha, leader of the “Anbar Awakening” that has ended much of al-Qaeda’s hold over western Iraq, as saying that the Jihadists were using suicide bombers as a last resort.