The Taliban is buying children as young as 7 and turning them into suicide bombers, the Washington Times reports. The going rate is $7,000 to $14,000, a huge amount in Pakistan, where where the average income is $2,600. Pakistani and US officials lay blame for the practice on Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who is hiding out in the tribal regions.
He has “turned suicide bombing into a production output,” a US defense official said, “not unlike Toyota outputs cars.” Sometimes, children are kidnapped and sold to Mehsud, and he distributes them to his own group or to other Taliban factions. The new practice “is the grim reality of the Taliban Frankenstein that now threatens to overwhelm the Pakistani state,” said an analyst at the Brookings Institution.