"The Taliban Made Me Fight"
The boys in what Badam Bagh officials call the suicide bombers wing ranged in age from 12 to 17. Their cases were in various stages; some had been convicted and were serving their sentences, while others were awaiting trial. At the time of our visit, 47 boys were being held in the Badam Bagh juvenile detention center in Kabul as national security threats. Most were charged with planting, carrying or wearing bombs, and many of them, like Muslim, were accused of trying to become suicide bombers. “I am not a suicider,” Muslim said. “The Taliban made me fight for them.” Nearly all of the boys arrested on charges related to suicide attacks were educated in madrasas, conservative religious schools that can serve as recruiting and indoctrination centers for suicide bombers. For the authorities, children like him present a conundrum: what to do with them when they finish their sentences, which often range from two to 10 years. Many will be released just as they reach adulthood, when they are even more capable of causing mayhem. Afghan prisons have fewer adults accused of plotting or carrying out suicide bombings than children, although that may be because the adult bombers are more successful at killing themselves.