Taliban Child Fighters

2014, Military and War  -  27 min Leave a Comment
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As the British and US-led troops get ready to abandon Afghanistan, they leave behind a country in the hands of the Taliban. And the next generations aren't merely blameless observers of the continuous war- some of them have also become contributors.

Dispatches acquire exclusive admission to meet the Taliban's child fighters. Some agree to give up their lives, others are strained - but they are all Afghanistan's Taliban generation.

10 year-old Neaz knows a lot about firearms. Two years ago, he was abducted by the Taliban and "prepared" for a specific task. Neaz succeeded to break away from the Taliban camp during the night, and hiked until he came to a police station where he turned himself in. The authorities used the publicity and showed off Neaz on Afghan TV.

Defenseless children are easy target for the Taliban - over two thirds of the kids in the orphanages have lost their parents to the war. Neaz's family was murdered when their village was bombarded by the coalition forces in an attempt to kill hiding rebels. Everyone in Neaz's family was massacred, including his brother and sister.

Most of the children in the orphanages were born after the American invasion in 2001. They have known nothing but bloodshed. The NATO-supported Afghan government is battling for the hearts and minds of this growing generation. Pro-Government propaganda materials are delivered to children in orphanages and schools around the country. But, Neaz and his friends know that life is more complex than what the propaganda advocates.

After almost 12 years - with the assistance of the world's most capable military forces - the Taliban have still not been crushed. One of the Taliban's most efficient armament has been the suicide bomb. Recently, a video was posted to the Internet showing what's considered to be Taliban members reassuring one unenthusiastic, young suicide bomber. There's no way of proving the video - and what happened next with the boy is unknown. Not all children suicide bombers are unwilling recruits. The Afghan authorities claim that 48 kids were taken into custody last year for planning attacks.