Islamabad, Feb 8 (IANS) The second generation of Taliban guerrillas, who are now in their early 20s, have become a part of the insurgency in Pakistan and Afghanistan, police and intelligence officials said.
“The sons of the Taliban fighters who were 10 or 12 years of age at the time of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 are now 20 or 22 years old,” Express Tribune Tuesday quoted an intelligence official as saying.
“They are a product of war and ultimately they have to follow their elders.”
The young guerrillas, including teens, in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan are being readied for suicide missions.
Police say that most suicide attacks are carried out by teenagers whom the Taliban call “weapon of mass destruction, or atom bomb”.
Another official said the Taliban continued to be a formidable force despite hundreds of their cadres being killed over the last 10 years. This showed that the militants have no shortage of fresh recruits.
The Taliban have recruited hundreds of teenagers to carry out their war against the against the US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan.
“Most of these teenaged fighters are the relatives of those militants who were killed by foreign troops.
“They joined the Taliban voluntarily to avenge the killing of their fathers or siblings,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
“Badl or revenge is an integral part of the Afghan culture. They will take revenge even if it takes them 100 years.”
The US has announced that foreign troops will start pulling out of Afghanistan in July this year.
An analyst said: “The militants think that NATO has conceded defeat by setting a timetable for withdrawal of their troops from the region.”
The media report said young men in Pakistan are being recruited by the Taliban to keep their insurgency going.
In Afghanistan, most of the young insurgents are the children of those Arab, Uzbek, Tajik and Chechen militants who had gone there to fight alongside the Mujahideen against then Soviet troops and could not go back as their home countries refused to accept them.
These foreign guerrillas settled near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions and married local Afghan girls, said a security official.
Majority of them have links with the Al Qaeda terror network.
Intelligence officials said that the first batch of young militants was recruited in October 2006 when US jets targeted a madrassa in the Bajaur tribal region.
The militants struck back with a suicide bomber targeting an army camp in Mardan district, Nov 8, 2006, killing 42 soldiers.
They bombed madrassa students, who were then aged between 12 and 22, Most students from the bombed madrassa went to neighbouring Swat where they joined radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah.
Fazlullah’s young recruits were trained by the Taliban in the Waziristan region.
The Pakistani soldiers have rounded up about 3,000 insurgents, including young men who had been recruited for various missions such as spying, fighting and suicide attacks.
“This recruitment process has been ongoing in the Waziristan region for the last seven years,” a security official was quoted as saying.
“Dozens of tribal teens volunteer for the insurgency after a systematic motivation process.
“They are made to watch video films, showing physical torture and killing of Muslims women and children in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Somalia by what they call infidels.”