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The Down Syndrome Bombers: Terrorism Sinks to New Low

The Down Syndrome Bombers: Terrorism Sinks to New Low

Author: Aaron Hanscom
Publication: Pajamas Media
Date: February 4, 2008
URL: http://pajamasmedia.com/2008/02/has_alqaeda_reached_a_new_low.php

Just when suicide attacks stopped shocking the world came the news thatBaghdad bombings were committed by two Down syndrome women wired toexplode. Aaron Hanscom wonders if there could be any act more depravedthan turning a mentally disabled person into a human bomb. The mosthorrific part: it's becoming a trend.

Last week's horrific bombings at two pet bazaars in Baghdad reacquaintedus with the most disturbing type of suicide bomber: the unwittingmartyr.

Had the perpetrators of the attacks that killed at least 99 people beenyoung men who believed self-immolation was their one-way ticket toparadise, the story would have never made headlines. While voluntarymartyrdom operations in Western countries still occur infrequentlyenough to shock the public into recognizing (however belatedly ortemporarily) the brutality of radical Islamists, they have become oldnews in Iraq. One can't help but wonder if there will come a time whenthe headline "Mentally Retarded Women Used in Bombings" no longerappalls us.

Because that moment has fortunately not yet arrived, Friday's terroristattacks were effective reminders of the utter depravity of jihadists.According to U.S. and Iraqi officials, pictures of the two femalebombers showed they had Down syndrome. Their remote detonated bombs wentoff in locations thronged with families and children. "It appears thesuicide bombers were not willing martyrs, they were used by al-Qaeda forthese horrific attacks," Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, the top U.S.commander in Baghdad, told the AP.

Hammond pointed out the obvious when he stated that the "two suicidevest attacks represent the worst of human nature." (For those whoquestion the accuracy of the term "Islamo-fascist," it should beremembered that the Nazis systematically murdered the mentallyhandicapped.) More surprising responses came from those less determinedto see American forces prevail in Iraq. For example, in a post arguingthat the U.S. surge in Iraq has failed, Libby of Newshoggers describedthe bombings as a "sign of adaptation and a brilliant one at that."

There's no doubt that the use of the mentally disabled for terroristoperations serves a tactical purpose. Bob Owens of Confederate Yankeeexplains that this tactic "tells us that al-Qaeda in Iraq recognizesthat attempts to use male suicide bombers and vehicle-borne improvisedexplosive devices (VBIEDs), their preferred method of suicide attacksfor those seeking martyrdom, are no longer effective." What it alsotells us, however, is that radical Islamists have no respect for humanlife and will not hesitate to employ the most barbaric methods toachieve their goals.

In fact, this was only the latest - not the first - instance of mentallydisabled individuals being used unwittingly as human bombs. Last year,Brian Glyn Williams noted that the employment of suicide bombers who arementally unsound has become a disturbing trend in Afghanistan."Coalition troops who have spoken of seeing bombers blow themselves upfar from their convoys have characterized it as the act of drugged ormentally unstable bombers," he wrote on the website of The JamestownFoundation. Williams told Time magazine that the Taliban regularlyrecruits young men who are "deranged, retarded, mentally unstable or ondrugs." A 2007 NPR report also found that a substantial number ofsuicide bombers in Afghanistan suffer from mental illnesses.

Israeli soldiers recently disarmed a retarded young man wearing anexplosive vest. He had been sent to an Israeli checkpoint by Palestinianterrorists. Meanwhile, IRIN has reported that dozens of mentallyhandicapped children are being used to fight in Iraq. In January 2005,Iraq's interior minister said that terrorists used a disabled child(police reported that the child appeared to have Down syndrome) as oneof the suicide bombers behind attacks on election day. Last year, twochildren with mental problems were put in the back seat of a car thatwas subsequently blown up in a suicide attack in Baghdad's Adhamiyahneighborhood.

A local NGO spokesperson explained how these children are "recruited": Some children were given by their families but many others werekidnapped by insurgents when they knew that those children had mentalproblems. Some of them were even taken from the doors of their houses orschools.

Abu Ahmed is a spokesman for al-Qaeda in Iraq and was quoted by IRIN. Hespoke about 13-year-old Barak Muhammad, a mentally handicapped boy whowas sold to the terrorist group by his father. We're doing a favour to Barak. We're giving him the chance to be usefuland not suffer daily beatings from is father. Here, with us, he gets Islamic lessons and is soon going tobe a good fighter and maybe one day even become a suicide bomber in thename of God.

Ahmed's celebration of death could not be more at odds with Westernvalues. To highlight this difference, contrast the life of Barak withthat of Lior Lieblings, a 13-year-old boy with Down syndrome who is thesubject of the new documentary Praying with Lior (The film opened in NewYork on the same day as the bombings in Iraq.) That Lior is aninspiration to those around him is evident from the trailer, which showshim eagerly preparing for his approaching Bar Mitzvah.

But it is Lior's brother who delivers the most stinging rebuke toal-Qaeda and its perverted sense of what it means to act in the name ofGod: "If there is a God, then Lior is definitely closer to God thananybody else I know."

Aaron Hanscom is a Los Angeles-based editor for Pajamas Media.

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