How to defuse a human bomb: Rescuing the Taliban's teenage recruits

From today's Guardian. I confess that the recruitment/abduction of young lads for this was so wide-spread. Absolutely fascinating article!

On a more pedantic note, who or what is "Pakistan's 19th Infantry Battalion"? Pretty sure that the Pak Army is organised along British Regimental lines.

How to defuse a human bomb | Taliban | Suicide bombers | World news | The Guardian
How to defuse a human bomb: Rescuing the Taliban's teenage recruits

The boy comes into view on the CCTV footage for just a few seconds, long enough to see that he is very young and wearing something bulky under his shalwar kameez. He walks purposefully through a crowd of worshippers gathering at Data Darbar Sufi shrine in Lahore, and then the screen is filled with a flash, followed by a juddering cloud of smoke. The blast settles to reveal a soundless world of body parts, shoes and clothes. The teenage suicide bomber killed himself and 45 others, and maimed 175 more, in this blast on 2 July 2010 – a good result for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that trained him, and another tragedy for Pakistan.
Abida Begum, a mother of six, living hundreds of miles away in the Swat Valley, in Pakistan's north-west, recalled seeing the footage on TV in the village shop and feeling nauseous. Every time she heard of a suicide blast, she immediately thought of Attaullah, her 14-year-old son, who had gone missing in February on his way to school. She suspected he had been abducted by the TTP which had seized control of Swat in 2008, transforming this erstwhile idyll of trout streams and ski slopes into a wasps' nest of blood-letting and terror. Hundreds of young boys from Abida's village of Kabal and those surrounding it had disappeared, pressed into the TTP's ranks, leaving once boisterous alleys and cart tracks deserted after dusk. The Pakistani army had launched an offensive to drive out the TTP in April 2009 – and even claimed victory at the end of last year – but the militants' influence was being felt once more, with the bullet-ridden bodies of those who crossed them turning up in local fields.
Many boys went voluntarily, lured by the swagger of the long-haired Islamic fighters. Others were taken by force in the night, when heavily armed figures slunk into villages, demanding money and recruits. Some were even sold by their parents for 25,000 rupees (£180), the going rate paid by the TTP for a healthy teenager.
The families of the missing boys always feared the worst. News filtered back that most were destined to become human bombs. Rumours spread that if the army caught them, they were summarily executed, a story that gained credibility last month when a mobile phone clip emerged in Swat showing soldiers killing six young blindfolded men by firing squad. The army claimed the footage was faked by the TTP, but the human cost of the teen recruits was undeniable. For three years, a legion of these "dumb bombs", as the locals called them, had terrorised the country, claiming 3,500 lives in 200 attacks.
The night of the Lahore blast, Abida went to bed imagining Attaullah, a knockabout kid who had loved his English classes best, coerced into a nylon jacket packed with explosives and flesh-ripping ball bearings. Days later, she heard an extraordinary story from a neighbour – this woman's son had vanished, too, but after more than a year he had, miraculously, come home.
Recruited by the TTP, the boy confirmed he had been locked into a programme to produce martyrs. However, before he could be utilised, the army had busted his training camp. Rather than killing everyone in it, the soldiers had taken several boys to their base at Malakand Pass, 30 miles south-east of Kabal, putting them in a kind of reform school along with dozens more young, would-be suicide bombers. They were fed, clothed, taught English and allowed to play volleyball and cricket. Respected religious scholars patiently explained how killing civilians was wrong according to the Qur'an. Psychologists counselled them. Some were eventually allowed back home.
The neighbour's son said many other boys from local villages were still at the school. Abida made the dusty bus journey to Malakand Fort, at the southern end of the Swat Valley. Once a British-era military outpost, it was now the headquarters of Pakistan's 19th Infantry Battalion and the centre of a bold deradicalisation project.
Down a lane winding between apricot trees, three whitewashed compounds rise up against the stunning backdrop of Malakand Pass. The road to the Sabaoon school is blocked with steel barricades and razor wire, the entrance gate protected by blast walls and dugouts. Weapons are trained on visitors from the windows, roof, gatehouse and guard-posts that rise up at each corner.
Sabaoon means "first light of dawn" in Pashto. Beyond the soldiers are well-thumbed English books and Urdu dictionaries. Boys dressed in green-and-white striped shirts, cream slacks and white plimsolls huddle in shady corners.
For most of them, Sabaoon is the first proper school they have attended. Only a few weeks ago, some were living under rough blankets in a dark corner of a TTP training camp. Others were tramping the unforgiving terrain between Pakistan's tribal areas and neighbouring Afghanistan, acting as lookouts: spotting an army convoy to attack or a girls' school to bomb. Some were scouring the villages where they had once lived, in search of more young recruits. The one thing they all had in common was a belief in the righteousness of killing. All of them expected to die before reaching adulthood.
Abida finds Attaullah sitting with the school director in a counselling room with a two-way mirror. He has just been sprung from a TTP camp. The boy who died in Lahore on 2 July was someone else's son. Abida sobs into her son's neck. "Stop it, Mum," he whispers, embarrassed. "I'm OK." A would-be killer, he is suddenly transformed into an awkward kid. Abida's relief turns to anger as she learns from the school director that they suspect him of scouting for targets and recruits. She slaps him round the face. "Why did you go with them?" she cries. "You stupid boy!"
Before becoming director of Sabaoon, Dr Feriha Peracha had a lucrative career as one of Pakistan's most respected psychologists. Her practice in Defence Colony, a well-heeled suburb of Lahore, had a roster of clients from Pakistan's wealthy elite. In the shade of the school's volleyball court, her head covered with a silk YSL scarf, she recalls her journey here: "I needed to take responsibility," she says. "Things are now desperate for Pakistan. I want every child in here to see that they should not give in to life after death as the only option."
On arrival, the teenagers are assessed and classified according to the risk they present. Compound One contains the most trusted students: those who probably have not handled weapons, who do not display pathological behaviour and whose family have had no known contact with the TTP. "These boys are the most likely to have been used as cannon fodder," Peracha says. "The Taliban does not waste money or time training those it chooses to be human bombs."
The second compound takes the teenagers who may have straddled this world and that of the jihadi fighter. The third houses the high-risk, all of whom have received advanced weapons training and been subject to the most intensive indoctrination. As we walk around, we can feel snatched glances from teenagers hiding behind curtains and in doorways. "You are the first foreigners they have ever seen," Peracha says. She takes us into the art room. The work is a carnival of gore: paintings of limbless bodies, severed heads, rocket-propelled grenades.
Just shoot them in the head.... a round through the medulla Oblongata usually does the trick. (Just aim at the nose).
From today's Guardian. I confess [not knowing?] that the recruitment/abduction of young lads for this was so wide-spread. Absolutely fascinating article!
This is really good news if it's true. Not only that the $10 Taliban being rescued, but that the Pakistanis are onto it.
Just shoot them in the head.... a round through the medulla Oblongata usually does the trick. (Just aim at the nose).
Spot on, But also look at carrying this throughout the greatest of islamotolerist worlds. IE UK#]

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