More on Taliban's 6 year old human bomb

AP/East Valley Tribune:

The story of a 6-year-old Afghan boy who says he thwarted an effort by Taliban militants to trick him into being a suicide bomber provoked tears and anger at a meeting of tribal leaders.

The account from Juma Gul, a dirt-caked child who collects scrap metal for money, left American soldiers dumbfounded that a youngster could be sent on such a mission. Afghan troops crowded around the boy to call him a hero.

Though the Taliban dismissed the story as propaganda, at a time when U.S. and NATO forces are under increasing criticism over civilian casualties, both Afghan tribal elders and U.S. military officers said they were convinced by his dramatic account.

Juma said that sometime last month Taliban fighters forced him to wear a vest they said would spray out flowers when he touched a button. He said they told him that when he saw American soldiers, "throw your body at them."

The militants cornered Juma in a Taliban-controlled district in southern Afghanistan's Ghazni province. Their target was an impoverished youngster being raised by an older sister - but also one who proved too street-smart for their plan.

"When they first put the vest on my body I didn't know what to think, but then I felt the bomb," Juma told The Associated Press as he ate lamb and rice after being introduced to the elders at this joint U.S.-Afghan base in Ghazni. "After I figured out it was a bomb, I went to the Afghan soldiers for help."

...

Schweitzer called the Taliban's attempt "a cowardly act."

As Deciwal told Juma's story, 20 Afghan elders repeatedly clicked their tongues in sadness and disapproval. When the boy and his brother were brought in, several of the turban-wearing men welled up, wiping their eyes with handkerchiefs.

"If anybody has a heart, then how can you control yourself (before) these kids?" Deciwal said in broken English.

Wallets quickly opened, and the boys were handed $60 in American and Afghan currency - a good chunk of money in a country where teachers and police earn $70 a month.

Afghan officials described the boys as extremely poor, and Juma said he is being raised by his sister because his father works in a bakery in Pakistan and his mother lives and does domestic work in another village.

"I think the boy is intelligent," Deciwal said. "When he comes from the enemy he found a checkpoint of the ANA (Afghan National Army), and he asked the ANA: 'Hey, can you help me? Somebody gave me this jacket and I don't know what's inside but maybe something bad.'"

Lt. Col. George Graff, a father of five who attended the meeting, also teared up.

"Relating to them as a father and trying to fathom somebody using one of my children for that kind of a purpose, jeez, it just tore me up," said Graff, a National Guard soldier from St. George, Utah. "The depths that these people will go to get what they want, which is power for themselves - it's just disgusting."

...

Col. Sayed Waqef Shah, a religious and cultural affairs officer for the Afghan army, wiped away tears after seeing Juma. "Whenever I see this kind of action from the Taliban, if I am able to arrest them, I'll kill them on the spot," he said.

Haji Niaz Mohammad, one of the elders at the gathering, said he hoped "God makes the Afghan government strong" so it can defeat the Taliban.

"They are the enemy of Muslims and the enemy of the children," he said, shaking his fists in anger.

It appears the Taliban have lost many more hearts and minds with this disgusting child abuse. The anger of the anger of the Afghan tribes at this abuse will be significant. While their code can be primitive, crossing a red line like this is and should be unforgivable. While the Taliban are trying to weasel out of responsibility they can't explain why he would be wearing one of their human bomb vests. It happened at about the same time the Taliban ambushed some school girls killing two and wounding three, so their words of not involving the children in their war ring false.

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