Nearly 200 boys, some as young as six years, were rescued by Pakistani security forces from Taliban camps in the lawless Swat valley, where they were being 'brainwashed' and trained to become suicide bombers.
The troops have kept the children in Mardan area where they will go through 'mental rehabilitation' with the help of psychiatrists so that they can return to a normal life. The boys, whose age ranges between 6 and 13 years, have been so thoroughly brainwashed that they consider all others as 'infidels', senior North West Frontier Province Minister Bashir Bilour was quoted as telling the Geo News channel.
"These children have been brainwashed in a way that now they even want to kill their own parents," he said. Bilour said some children were initially pleased when they were handed over to their parents. But a few days later, the parents came back with complaints that the boys were now threatening to kill them, the report said.
Several would-be suicide bombers had been rescued from the captivity of militants, Mingora commander Brigadier Tahir Hameed told the media. "We are trying to bring them back on track," he said, adding, "arrangements are now being made to enroll them in schools with free boarding and lodging and give them monthly scholarships."
He said the Taliban decided to use children as suicide bombers because they were easily influenced and less likely to be caught while undertaking an operation. "They are told that the Pakistani army has become an enemy of Islam, as it is fighting for Christians and Jews," said a senior official involved in the interrogation of potential suicide bombers who have been captured.
On the day of a planned attack, the suicide bomber is taken to a mosque, and 'congratulated for being chosen by the God'.
"Sometimes, he is also heavily drugged before the attack," The Nation newspaper quoted the brigadier as saying. Pakistan Air Force on Monday destroyed one such suicide bombing training centre in the restive Khyber tribal region.