Good article in this week's Newsweek about the impact sectarian warfare is having on the country's youth and the long term implications. Long, but worth a read....
Jan. 22, 2007 issue - Ammar will tell you he's proud to be carrying a gun. His father was a brigadier in Saddam Hussein's Army, a man who saw combat in his country's several wars, and from an early age Ammar had accompanied him to the shooting range. "I got used to the sound of guns then," Ammar says. So he was ready, last fall, when the imam in his Baghdad neighborhood urged residents to take up arms against the invaderwho in this case happened to be members of a Shiite militia trying to push into the predominantly Sunni area. Ammar joined the neighborhood watch, a ragtag bunch of men who stand guard nightly at improvised roadblocks and rooftop observation posts. In mid-October Ammar fought his first big battle against soldiers from the Mahdi Army"the garbage collectors and robbers," as he contemptuously refers to the Shiite militia. He says he put his Kalashnikov assault rifle to good use: "I think I injured or even killed two of them. Our group killed more than six of them that night." Ammar is 17 years old. A tall, thin boy with a beard just starting up, he has already seen far more of the dark side of life than anyone really should. As the grisly toll of Baghdad's death squads spiked last fall, he helped out in the room at his local mosque where bodies are ritually washed before they are buried. Some corpses had been burned with chemicals. Limbs had been cut off, eyes torn out. One day at the beginning of November, a neighbor of Ammar's, a college student and fellow Sunni, disappeared at an impromptu checkpoint set up by the Mahdi Army. When the neighbor's body finally turned up at the mosque for burial, Ammar saw that he had been beheaded. (He recognized his friend from the clothing.) "I ran into the garden and threw up," Ammar says. Then he vowed revenge.