pakistan suicide bombing_311.
(photo credit: Stringer Pakistan / Reuters)
Islamic charities from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates financed a network in US ally Pakistan that recruited children as young as eight to wage holy war, a Pakistani newspaper reported on Sunday, citing Wikileaks.
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A US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks said financial support estimated at $100 million a year was making its way from those Gulf Arab states to a jihadist recruitment network in Pakistan's Punjab province, Dawn newspaper reported.
The November 2008 dispatch by Bryan Hunt, the then principal officer at the US consulate in Lahore, was based on discussions with local government and non-governmental sources during trips to Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province.
It said those sources claimed that financial aid from Saudi and United
Arab Emirates was coming from "missionary" and "Islamic charitable"
organizations ostensibly with the direct support of those countries'
Saudi Arabia, the United States and Pakistan heavily supported the
Afghan mujahideen against Soviet occupation troops in the 1980s.
Militancy subsequently mushroomed in the region and militants moved to
Pakistan's northwest tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan,
seen as a global hub for militants.
Since then there has been a growing nexus between militant groups there
and in Punjab. In recent years militants have been carrying out suicide
bombings seemingly at will in Pakistan, despite military offensives
against their strongholds.
The discovery that Osama bin Laden was living in a Pakistani town not
far from Islamabad until he was killed by US special forces earlier this
month has severely damaged ties between Washington and Islamabad.
The United States wants Pakistan to be a more reliable partner in its war on militancy.Punjab network reportedly exploiting children
But militancy is deeply rooted in Pakistan. In order to eradicate it,
analysts say, the government must improve economic conditions to prevent
militants from recruiting young men disillusioned with the state.
The network in Punjab reportedly exploited worsening poverty to
indoctrinate children and ultimately send them to training camps, said
Saudi Arabia, home to the fundamentalist Wahhabi brand of Islam, is seen
as funding some of Pakistan's hardline religious seminaries, or
madrassas, which churn out young men eager for holy war, posing a threat
to the stability of the region.
"At these madrassas, children are denied contact with the outside world
and taught sectarian extremism, hatred for non-Muslims, and
anti-Western/anti-Pakistan government philosophy," said the cable.
It described how "families with multiple children" and "severe financial difficulties" were being exploited and recruited, Dawn
"The path following recruitment depends upon the age of the child
involved. Younger children (between 8 and 12) seem to be favored," said
Teachers in seminaries would assess the inclination of children "to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture".
"The initial success of establishing madrassas and mosques in these
areas led to subsequent annual "donations" to these same clerics,
originating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates," the cable