A Must See: Frontline’s Inside Look at Children of the Taliban

This video, by Al Jazeera, shows two teenage Pakistani boys who were abducted by the Taliban. They describe their experience at a Taliban training camp, where they are taught the Koran and how to use machine guns.

I saw a particularly fascinating documentary today produced by Frontline (couldn’t embed video, but click link to view) on the effect the Taliban is having on children in Pakistan. I was stunned at the interviews reporter Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was able to get–from young schoolgirls fighting for their education to wounded Pakistani soldiers to teenage boys currently IN the Taliban, saying on camera without covering that they would blow themselves up “God Willing.”

As a journalist, my first thought was, “how did she get these people, who knew she was part of an American organization and a woman, to speak so honestly on such controversial issues? Until this documentary I had never heard a 13-year-old boy publicly state his affiliation with the Taliban and his desire to perform a suicide bomb. I also have never heard the eerie declarations of Taliban leaders on the radio calling for more suicide bombs in the name of God. You have to watch and see for yourself.

A young girl talks about how the Taliban have been growing in numbers in her home town in Peshawar.

“Yes, I’ve seen them. They wear masks, they are scary,” she said.

The report also records a typical radio broadcast by the Taliban, which has a vibrant propaganda machine in the region. People listen so they avoid attacks:

“Sharia Law is our right, and we will exercise this right whatever happens. We will make ourselves suicide bombers! I swear to God if our leader orders me, I will sacrifice myself… and blow myself up in the middle of our enemies.“

According to the report, the Taliban have destroyed more than 200 government schools in Swat since they took control of the region. Of course, they have banned women from going to school.

She traveled to the SWAT valley that used to be the “Switzerland” of the east, now is ridden with Taliban. Women who used to not wear the burqa are now completely covered.

“Education is like a ray of light, and I want that light,” said one of the girls interviewed.

The fear is very alive among the people, who could lose everything at any moment, including their basic rights.

“If you look at people’s faces, you see a sadness. Our mouths are locked up. Our thoughts are chained,” said another man interviewed while they were hiding from the Taliban.

The most shocking part of the video to me was the interview with a current Taliban member who was 14. He talked about the growth of schools in the area and how their numbers have grown in the thousands.

“Would you like to carry out a suicide attack?” she asked.

“If God gives me strength,” he replies.

A part of the Taliban’s successful campaign is the Pakistani Army and US forces have bombed madrassas in villages and left people displaced while battling Taliban members.

Two male friends, one wanting to join the Taliban and one wanting to join the Pakistan Army, said they would kill each other if faced in battle. No hesitation.