Archive for Monday, July 16, 2007

14-year-old would-be suicide bomber freed

July 16, 2007

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— Fourteen-year-old Rafiqullah said the men at the Pakistani madrassa showed him and two classmates videos of suicide attackers. They taught the boys to drive a car and let them ride motorcycles. Then the militants gave Rafiqullah his mission: Kill an Afghan governor.

The teenager walked eight hours over the porous border from Pakistan to the eastern Afghan city of Khost, where a man named Abdul Aziz tried to pump up his courage, Rafiqullah said. Aziz gave him an explosives-laden vest, and the teenager confessed his fears.

"I said I was afraid to carry out the suicide attack, and Abdul Aziz pointed a gun at me and said 'I'll kill you if you don't,'" Rafiqullah told The Associated Press while he was in the custody of Afghan authorities over the weekend.

Declaring the teen an innocent pawn manipulated by militants, President Hamid Karzai on Sunday freed Rafiqullah, who appears to be at least the third child co-opted by Taliban fighters to carry out attacks since April. Intelligence agents arrested the teen in early June, the night before he was to carry out his bombing.

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