A disturbing new development in Iraq

1 JANUARY 2003

In a disturbing new development in the war in Iraq, it was reported this week that insurgents had used children in a suicide bomb attack.

In a disturbing new development in the war in Iraq, it was reported this week that insurgents had used children in a suicide bomb attack.
 
The US military said on Tuesday 20 March a vehicle used in the attack was waved through a checkpoint because two children were visible in the back seat. It was the first reported use of children in a suicide car bombing in Baghdad.
 
"Most people reading the story will be rightly absolutely appalled by the killing of children in this fashion,” said Nick O'Brien, Associate Professor for counter terrorism at Charles Sturt University. “But now that this has happened once, it will happen again.”
 
Professor O’Brien says the problem now for the coalition forces will be devising a counter-strategy that will not involve the killing of children. “The last thing needed would be the spectacle of US troops killing children they suspected of being used in a suicide attack.
 
“This unfortunately makes it a triple win for the terrorists: they have the advantages accrued for being involved in a suicide attack, they have the tactical advantages of using children in this way and they have the possibility that US troops will kill children with the resultant world-wide bad publicity."
 
Who were the children? And how were they chosen? Professor O’Brien says, “I am guessing that their parents were in the car with them, because that would seem logical.
 
“An Islamist suicide attacker is convinced that he or she will have all their sins forgiven and that they will enter immediately into heaven. Additionally they can act as advocates for 70 members of their family to get them into heaven.”
 
Professor O’Brien believes the attacks will continue as long as Islamic religious leaders refuse to denounce the practice of suicide bombings. “In the Koran it actually says that suicide is forbidden. The wording is something like, ‘And verily do not harm oneself, for God is compassionate’.
 
“But people twist it. They say that you are not actually committing suicide, you are using yourself as a weapon for God.
 
“The suicide bomber who goes out on their mission will look at a gold, silver and a bronze target. The gold target will be for example a political meeting, or a large group of soldiers.
 
“A silver target will be if they can’t get to their intended target and they detonate somewhere else, and the bronze target will be if they are stopped by law enforcement officers or troops.
 
“This, coupled with the strategic advantages of using the children in this way, means it is a tactic that will likely be used in the future.”

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