Child Militancy: Understanding Child Recruitment in Different Parts of the World

How the New Generation of Warriors make terrorism an Endless Game

Child militancy is one of the biggest global problems despite International law in place against the use of children in combat. Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism for the past many years being a frontline state in United States global war on terror. Pakistan after witnessing many episodes of terrorism is now experiencing an improved security condition owing to the successful military operations carried out in its tribal areas. One of the reasons behind the improved security conditions in Pakistan is the establishment of de radicalization programs initiated by the military and a few prominent Psychologists. These de radicalization programs are aimed at de radicalizing young militants with the help of education and mental health therapies. There is no denying the fact that many stories of children recruited by Taliban in Pakistan have surfaced in the past few years. However the tradition of child recruitment by terrorists still continues in some parts of world like Afghanistan and Africa. A research suggested that an estimated 40% child soldiers out of the total global number of child soldiers are active on the African continent.

 According to DW reports Afghan children besides being used by the Taliban, ISIS and other armed groups are also used by National Afghan Police and the Afghan Local Police. These young children not only work as fighters but in addition to it they also work as cooks for the commanders. Often times there have been reports of violence against children by Afghan Police Commanders. The United States despite providing military aid to Afghanistan has been unable to end the use of children in combat by the Afghan Security Forces. According to The US Child Soldiers Prevention Act the United States is prohibited from providing assistance to countries that use children as combatants.  The United States however, has not banned military assistance to Afghanistan despite the fact that children are used in combat by the Afghan security forces. The pretext given by the United States for not withholding military assistance to Afghanistan is that Police is not a formal part of Afghan armed forces. Conversely more and more children are recruited as soldiers by different armed groups in Afghanistan especially the ISIS.

Below are some facts suggesting why child soldiers are preferred over adult recruits by different arms groups and terrorist organizations in different parts of the world.

Child Recruitment in Africa

  • The basic reason for armed groups for preferring child soldiers despite their inferior physical power and a lack of experience is that child soldiers are viewed replaceable.
  • In case of the African conflict zones 50% of the population is under the age of 18 and therefore these children are viewed as an inexhaustible supply of warriors.
  • As children are psychologically more susceptible they can be easily indoctrinated furthermore they easily agree to carry out dangerous activities due to lack of fear.
  • The global proliferation of arms has been a major factor for instance AK 47 and Kalashnikovs have certainly contributed to the recruitment of children as warriors. Due to technological advancements in weapons and guns such as the AK 47 rifles can be easily used by children as young as 10.

  • The African continent has witnessed both forced and voluntary recruitments. Many children are abducted and then forced to join armed groups as child solders. Other examples of forced recruitments include children who are born into armed groups.
  • Voluntary recruitment of children does not mean that young children willingly join armed groups. Most of the volunteer recruits are victims of extreme poverty and misery while others are forced to join armed groups to avenge the killings of their close relatives.

Child Recruitment in Afghanistan

  • In Afghanistan children are often used in carrying out insurgent activities such as blowing up explosive devices. Children are also used for the purpose of surveillances and for getting the exact location of Afghan and NATO security officials.
  • The increased numbers of Afghan security forces makes it difficult for adult suicide bombers to reach their targets. Therefore childe suicide bombers are preferred over adult bombers.
  • Many children in Afghanistan are sent to Madrassas owing to poverty and ultimately end up as child soldiers. Reports suggest that some madrassas in Afghanistan are still run by Taliban commanders therefore these madrassa acts as recruiting ground for young soldiers.

    Interviews of detained children suggest that children are often abducted from streets and low income neighborhoods.

  • The ISIS in order to establish its strong hold in Afghanistan is now indoctrinating and recruiting young children as warriors. International journalist Najibullah Quraishi visited an ISIS sanctuary in Afghanistan and filmed how young children received training as warriors.

The use of young children in combats is a serious global issue which needs to be addressed. Children should neither be used by terrorists nor by the security forces in combats. Organizations such as the ISIS by recruiting children are preparing a new generation of warriors. If children are allowed to be used by terrorist organizations then the game of terrorism would certainly become endless.


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