Andrew O’Hagan meets young Afghan girls during a visit to Kabul

Some perspectives from Afghanistan…

There are a # of factors at play right now with the current threat(s) in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world. Most notably, you’re probably seeing news of US Embassy shutdowns and travel advisories across north Africa, the Middle East, and over into Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here are some of the factors at play contributing to the “chatter” intercepts and precautions being taken by Western interests:

1. Prison breaks: recently, there have been a large # of prison breaks across the Muslim world, and three main ones in just the last couple weeks (Pakistan, Iraq and Libya). These have been orchestrated by al Qaeda and their affiliates, setting hundreds, if not thousands, of operatives loose and back out where they can plan and conduct terrorist activities.
2. End of Ramadan: Ramadan is a particularly important religious time for all Muslims. Throughout the month, there is a highly charged sense of the importance of Islam, both for good — and, for the potential of evil. Ramadan was preceded with a number of proclamations of attacks on International interests during the Holy Month
3. Night of Power – 27th day of Ramadan, which is today, 5 Aug. All acts are multiplied by a power of 1000. So, any charitable gift, act of kindness, act in furtherance of Jihad, etc., is though one had done it 1000 times. Thus, the # of poor people out on the streets begging, the donors giving food and $, and potentially, acts (of violence) done in furtherance of Jihad are significantly increased.
4. We’re getting close to anniversary of Sep 11; just recall what happened at Benghazi last year on Sep. 11th.
5. And, speaking of Benghazi, National Security Advisor Susan Rice is now being extra cautious after her yet-to-explained “spontaneous protest to a B-rated movie” cover-up of Benghazi.

But, the article below is what I want you to take a few minutes to read and digest. If you ever wondered how someone could become a suicide bomber, read this article. It does as good a job as I’ve seen describing one process. I’ve seen others, such as threats to kill family members, promises to take care of extended families, bribes, lies, and many more. But, this method is being used more and more frequently — I’ve personally seen and talked with 10 – 12 year old boys in prisons and juvenile detention centers here who were recruited using these tactics. Children are easily brainwashed, they are less likely to be fired upon by ISAF soldiers, they can get closer to their targets, and their devices can be rigged to detonate by remote control devices unknown to the child.

Check it out:

At the juvenile detention centre in Kandahar there are two sets of children. The first are riotous and loud, arrested for theft and other crimes of that sort. When you give them a piece of paper and ask them to write down the reason they are in prison, they simply scratch lines into the paper or scrunch it up. They can’t write. The second group are silent. But when they take the sheet of paper, they begin to write the most beautiful script, their sentences full of fire and argument. These are the children who were recruited to be suicide bombers – and their mothers tell them they will succeed next time.

The prison isn’t big on vocational training but they had some sewing machines before the man who operated them disappeared. Some of the boys are as young as 10. There is no education and too little water. The Afghan government, for reasons nobody understands, aims to move the children to a new site near Sarposa prison, a Taliban-rich area where adult inmates once sewed up their mouths in protest at what they believed was their unlawful detention. Evidence suggests that detained children are physically abused in these prisons. A boy who steals a pomegranate may steal another one and end up next to a kid who knows the quick way to another world.

One boy, Beltoon, came from the province of Paktia. The families in his village competed over whose sons would be sent to the madrasa. “You do not love your son, you do not teach him in the ways of Islam,” the elders would say to parents who kept their sons at home. A counsellor I spoke to told me many elders believe the world has come to destroy Islam and they must fight back. Beltoon is 15: he was herding goats before his father decided he should go to the regional madrasa, where he spent nine months. The dean then asked for volunteers. Which of them wished to have “advanced” education in Islam in Pakistan? Beltoon’s father and his uncles told him this meant a better education.

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