‘If you carry out a suicide attack, you will not die’
* Pakistani teenager detained in Afghanistan narrates how he was brainwashed by clerics
Daily Times, May 28, 2008
KABUL: A 14-year-old Pakistani “suicide bomber”, who is currently in an Afghan intelligence agency’s detention, was convinced by clerics that if he carried out a suicide attack, he would not die, according to a report published in Chicago Tribune on Tuesday.
Shakirullah, who is from Barwan village in North Waziristan, said he agreed to carry out a suicide attack on foreign troops in Afghanistan.
“They said, ‘They’re only foreigners. They’ll die, and you won’t’,” he told the newspaper correspondent, referring to his clerics.
He said he did not know how to drive a car or read a book, and that his only schooling was four months in an Islamic madrassa. Shakir was arrested allegedly in a car filled with explosives.
The report said that it was impossible for the Tribune reporter to independently verify the story because Western journalists were not allowed to visit the Tribal Areas. But it added that Shakir told the tale of his recruitment willingly and calmly, under no apparent pressure.
Intelligence sources said they don’t yet know what will happen to Shakir. If he is sent to Pakistan, he could be killed or recruited again, the report said.
“Everyone is so sad about this kid,” said one Afghan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his job.
The boy said he was recruited in March by two clerics from his madrassa, just after he finished learning to recite the Quran.
Because the book is in Arabic, Shakir said he had no idea what any of the words meant, but the clerics told him the next step to becoming a good Muslim was to blow himself up near foreign forces in Afghanistan.
The report quoted Shakir as saying that his clerics had told him that if he was a good Muslim, he would survive the attack. When he came home, he would be well paid and have everything he wanted.
“They said it was required because I finished the Quran,” Shakir said. “I didn’t want to go. They didn’t let me talk to my family,” he added.
He said he was driven across the border to Khost, an eastern Afghan city near the border and a US military base.
Shakir said that a medical student from another Afghan city and a cleric showed him several times how to drive a car and took him to sermons for three nights.
But before Shakir could launch an attack - on March 20, to coincide with the Afghan New Year - the explosives-filled car stalled in a dry riverbed.
Afghan security forces stumbled upon it and arrested Shakir, the cleric and the medical student.
Shakir said he doesn’t want to attack anyone anymore. “I don’t even know what jihad is,” he said. “I really want to go home.”