WASHINGTON -- Islamic terrorists are always looking for new ways to escape detection and carry out their attacks. One of their latest ideas is using children as suicide bombers.
The growing phenomenon may soon spread beyond the Middle East to the rest of the world.
The Making of a Child Martyr
Strategies in the global war against Islamic terrorism are taking very different roads in 2010. The Obama administration hopes downplaying Islamic extremism may help when dealing with Muslim countries.
Terror groups, however, are taking extremism to new levels by indoctrinating Muslim children in the deadly art of suicide bombing.
"The state-sponsored illegal recruitment and education of innocent Muslim children to become suicide bombers and child soldiers is occurring throughout the Muslim and non-Muslim world," said Brooke Goldstein, founder and director of The Children's Rights Institute, an organization focusing on human rights violations against children.
"In Pakistan, thousands of children are being educated in madrassahs," she said. "In Iraq, handicapped children are being blown up at polling stations. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is paying up to $12,000 per child, donated to them by their own families.
Taliban leaders run training centers where boys as young as 11 years of age learn to be suicide bombers. Some are even younger.
A 6-year-old Afghan boy recruited in 2007 was told that his suicide belt would "explode into flowers."
A Deadly Pioneer
The modern-day pioneer of Islamic child martyrdom was the Ayatollah Khomeini.
He sent thousands of children to clear minefields during the Iran-Iraq War. Khomeini then passed the baton to Palestinian terror groups, who've shown no qualms about sending children to their deaths.
Goldstein examined the world of Palestinian child bombers in her award-winning film, "The Making of a Martyr.""The state television, the school textbooks, the radio media, their print media, music videos are all teaching these children to become suicide bombers," Goldstein said. "They're teaching them to hate life and love death."
A Growing Global Phenomenon
This phenomenon is spreading through the Middle East to Iraq, the al Qaeda hotbed of Yemen.
"In Yemen, just about 50 percent of all combatants in the war between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels are under the age of 18," Goldstein explained. "A majority of those children are now being targeted to become suicide bombers."
The next battleground may be Great Britain. Due to growing extremism among young British Muslims, the government has started a de-radicalization program called The Channel Project.
"They have 230 children between the ages of 7 and 18 who they are now in the process of deradicalization education," Goldstein said.
In the meantime, she says international human rights groups like Amnesty International have shown little interest in the issue.