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Inside the training dens in Pakistan that make boys into suicide bombers

July 12, 2014 13:57 IST

Inside the training dens in Pakistan that make boys into suicide bombers


Sajjad Hussain

A key facility run by Afghan militant group Haqqani network for training the suicide bombers has been unearthed in Pakistan’s troubled North Waziristan tribal region.

The Haqqani network militants have been involved in several lethal attacks inside Afghanistan, including deadly strikes on Indian mission in the war torn-country.

The training school was housed in one of the many non-descript buildings at the dead-end of a small street inside Serai Darpakhel in North Waziristan, the Dawn reported.

It was hard to find the iron door of the building and for the unsuspecting outsiders, there was nothing unusual about this place, except that it was known to all those who lived nearby. “It was a facility to indoctrinate and train suicide bombers,” Dawn said.

There is a courtyard with big columns, mats spread out, bed-rolling piled up in one corner and stairs leading to the upper portion painted in light cream and brown colours. Plastered on one of the walls is a white banner inscribed with Islamic slogans and beneath it ‘the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’.

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Image: A little boy holds a gun in his hand in Pakistan.
Photographs: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images


Inside the training dens in Pakistan that make boys into suicide bombers

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Sajjad Hussain

This was one of the five suicide bombing facilities, owned and operated by the Haqqani Network in Serai Darpakhel, frequented by would-be bombers in their teens and twenties.

Most of the visitors were Afghans and Mehsuds but boys from Mohmand and Orakzai tribal region also would turn up for training and attacks.

It was rare that the religious indoctrinators, mentors or those running the centres were seen outside the iron gate of the building that shielded the dead-end house from the public.

No one living in Serai Darpakhel knew who they were, except that it was a centre for suicide bombers. Those enrolled at the centre were not allowed to step out till the completion of a mandatory two-month training.

The centre also would get an undertaking from all ‘esteshahadi friend’ or would-be bombers on a printed form. “It had a printed colour picture of the would-be bomber, his name, assumed name, father’s name, age, address, education, personal contact number, family contact number, family occupation, names of friends and acquaintances, father’s past and present political affiliation, the number of members in the family and their monthly income and experience, if any, in militant activities,” said Dawn.

And the seven rules the esteshahadi friend were required to live by were pretty stringent too. The use of cell phones were neither allowed nor considered necessary. For two months, neither would the enroller be allowed to go outside nor was he allowed to go out without permission, it read.

He was not allowed to make friends other than his ‘fidayi brothers’, teachers and mentors. He was supposed to hand-over his personal belongings to the centre in-charge and get things he might need.

The facility implemented a strict regimen of praying, spiritual and religious indoctrination and cooking, locals say.


Image: The forms the would-be-bombers are asked to fill up before their training

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