Afghanistan authorities are alarmed by a new way of preparing suicide bombers to act. The Taliban are injecting would-be assassins with drugs in order to make them suicidal.
"My only goal was to blow myself up," the boy said. His dark eyes are fixed on the ground, he appears intimidated.
Mohebullah is a suicide bomber - at least he was supposed to become one. He had the explosive vest already strapped on and stood before the headquarters of the provincial government in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, ready to sacrifice his life for the holy war.
However, Afghani secret service agents picked the boy up and took him into custody. The next day (15.08.2014), the 16-year-old boy was seated in a room in front of a dozen journalists in Kandahar.
"My father was a Taliban commander," Mohebullah explained. The family lived in the province neighboring Kandahar, called Urusgan. The fact that his father was a member of the militant extremists was apparently not a problem for the family. The father was killed in an anti-terror operation conducted by the Afghanistan army and the family sought refuge with relatives and friends in Pakistan, where the son buried his father.
'Training' in Pakistan
"A friend of my father's told me at the time that I was also supposed to join the Taliban," Mohebullah said. "The teacher of my religious school in Pakison brought me to a training center, where I received military training for 20 days."
He learned how a suicide vest worked as well.
"There were many boys my age. We were never allowed to talk with each other, though." After some time, Mohebullah realized that some of his classmates were already dead. "One of them, his name was Amanullah, blew himself up in Kandahar."
Mohebullah knew he was in line to do the same.
In 2013, accrding to local reports, 545 children were killed and 1149 injured in combat in Afghanistan. By far, the largest number of casualties, as is generally the case with civilian casualties, were caused by Taliban improvised explosive devices.
In the same year there were 65 suicide attacks. The number of those that were carried out by children or adolescents is unknown.
The war is traumatizing enough for kids, said Shamsuddin Tanweer of the children's rights division at the Afghanistan Human Rights Commision in Kandahar. It's even worse that terrorist groups repeatedly attempt to use children and young people for their purposes through brainwashing.
The children were lured with promises that their families would receive money, for example, or that the young assassins would survive the explosion. This was the case for 10-year-old Spozhmai from Helmand, who made headlines earlier this year. Her brother, a Taliban commander, ordered her to strap on and detonate a suicide vest. The young girl managed to escape however.
Mohebullah was also willing, at least at first, to carry out the suicide bombing, he told the assembled press in Kandahar. His "teacher" had then given him an injection that made him feel aggressive. "I became like a madman, and wanted to kill myself because I was so angry," Mohebullah said.
The administration of drugs is believed to be a common practice in making potential child suicide bombers docile, said Sadran Babraksai, who also works at the children's rights division of the Afghanistan Human Rights Commision.
That the chosen suicide bomber is made fearless of death by an injection is a new, treacherous development in this barbaric practice. The Human Rights Commission will investigate the case, according to Babraksai.