Al Qaeda Junior

Coalition forces have seized video material in a raid which evidently features a score of young boys ‘training’ in what can only be described as Al Qaeda Junior. Practising with assault rifles and RPG’s, staging kidnappings and generally preparing to be the next generation of ruthless killers in the name of Allah is one thing, but the significance of this cannot be ignored.

I’m really not shocked that Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) would resort to such tactics. Given their use of mentally-disabled women in last week’s bombings was simply the latest in a long line of savagery displayed by these fanatics. Thus, using their kids to carry on the barbarism is just the next evolution in AQI’s descent. More importantly, however, the notion that AQI must now mentally-disabled and coerce children to do their fighting only highlights just how desperate they have become, which in turn hints at a general defeat of AQI by the US-led coalition. ‘Defeat’ is likely too presumptuous at this time, but this certainly signifies a lack of actual grown, competent men to do AQI’s dirty work. I’m not surprised, insurgent and terrorist casualties in Iraq (and Afghanistan for that matter) have been astronomical. The message is clear; martyrdom in the service of AQI is a probability rather than a possibility.

The problem with child fighters, though, is the inevitable backlash coalition forces will receive from the free press when dead kids start appearing on the camera. Terrorism, it seems, changes just as fluidly as counter-terrorism. The difference this time, I think, lies in the fact that, while the coalition are improving their strategy and ultimately gaining ground tactically, AQI is forced to scrabble deeper into their blood-soaked bag of tricks in order to inflict any modicum of damage against the reconstruction process.

Whether you’re for or against the war, when the enemy/freedom fighters/terrorists start training the kids for terrorist warfare, the moral justification for their cause tends to wane, regardless of political disposition.