Why is a Child Soldier Awaiting Trial in Kabul?

Una Moore

Noor Mohammad, a 14 year old boy from Ghazni province in central Afghanistan, was forced to become a suicide bomber after local Taliban fighters caught him stealing. Two weeks ago, Mohammad was outfitted with an explosive vest and instructed him to walk to the nearby American military base and blow himself up. On his way to the base, the teen realized he couldn’t go through with his deadly mission. His crisis of conscience led him to make a fateful choice. “It is a sin to kill yourself and to kill others, so I threw the vest away,” he told the Guardian’s Jon Boone.

Mohammad spent that night sleeping on the ground outside the American base. When he was finally allowed inside, he surrendered to the Americans and volunteered to lead them to a house in the nearby village where Taliban fighters were hiding. Following Mohammad’s information, the soldiers discovered and destroyed a Taliban weapons cache.

But Mohammad wasn’t rewarded for his courage. Instead, he was handed over to the Afghan security forces and jailed. Now, Mohammad is in a juvenile detention center in Kabul, awaiting trial on unspecified charges. Mohammad’s treatment bodes ill for the increasing number of children forced into fighting for the Taliban and affiliated groups.

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