Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, August 27, 2007

More children recruited to fight, held in custody of U.S. military in Iraq

Since March, the number of boys, some as young as 11, being held in U.S. detention camps has risen from 100 to 800, said Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone, according to the Los Angeles Times. Child fighters are playing a growing role in kidnappings, killings and roadside bombings in Iraq, U.S. military officials say.

Stone attributes the rise in child fighters, in part, to the pressure that the U.S. buildup of troops has placed on the flow of foreign fighters. Fewer are making it into the country, so militant groups turn to child recruits.

Stone said some children have told interrogators that their parents encouraged them to work for militants because they have deep pockets. Insurgents typically pay the boys $200 to $300 to plant a bomb, enough to support a family for two or three months.

About 85 percent of the children currently in U.S. custody are Sunni Muslims, and the majority live in Sunni Arab-dominated regions in the country’s north and west. In these deeply impoverished communities, men with money have the most powerful arsenals.

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