Kids: the tools of terrorists

British investigations of the recent London bombings have been precise, methodical and effective.  In a very short period of time they have identified four young men all of whom evidence suggests were the terrorists responsible for last week's carnage against innocent British civilians.  News reports continue to trace the linkages of these murderers to other groups and other countries.
 
The one aspect of this case that haunts me the most, however, was the face of the youngest terrorist, Hasib Hussain, age 18, the seemingly innocent schoolboy now world—famous.

I am not sure how old he was when the picture was taken but he could have been any kid down the street, playing a video game, watching TV, throwing a baseball around or a myriad of other activities we in the States would term normal activities.  As a teenager in England, his interests are reported to have included both football and cricket, not exactly basic training for a suicide bomber.  His parents seemed totally shocked that their son was involved in such treachery.

Somewhere, somehow, this young man's circumstances were carefully studied and analyzed and those who could change the course of his life began leading him into the dark realm of pure, hellish evil.

Think for a minute about those times in our own country when teenagers conspired, planned and executed plots that brought a level of chilling violence to themselves as well as peers and classmates.  Think about the overwhelming attention, focus, investigation, remorse, second guessing, agony and nightmares that these events caused all of us to go through whether we were directly associated with them or merely read about them.

Some horribly misguided cynics among us might even try to make the moral equivalency between those acts and the act committed by Hussain.  There is no moral equivalency whatsoever.

The demise of this young man can be conveniently laid at the feet of such things as out of touch parents, poverty, political, social and religious isolation and disenfranchisement as well as the belief that no matter what he may do in life, the western world will never accept him.  All of these things may be contributing causes, but they mask the real evil that pulled this boy into a world of darkness few of us in the west can comprehend...or worse yet want to comprehend.

Somewhere along the way, he met one or more people who swept any semblance of individuality and goodness from his heart and mind and replaced them with the idea that his sole purpose on this earth was to kill innocent people indiscriminately.  Imagine what went through his mind when that morning arrived and he slipped his arms through his backpack already filled with explosives knowing that he was just minutes away from his own death.  Think for a moment about how deeply embedded in his psyche was this mission of hate and evil and how calmly he approached it.  What does this tell us about the motives, drive, intensity and no holds barred approach his handlers used to accomplish their ends?  What does this tell us about how dedicated and effective they are regarding taking the most innocent among us and turning them into killing machines?  Can we in our wildest dreams comprehend this level of evil?

But wait, their use of kids as tools of evil doesn't end with Hussain.  Picture a side street in Iraq filled with little kids getting candy from some smiling American soldiers.  This happy scene in a country not noted for happiness suddenly dissolves in a blinding flash of shredded metal mingled with the torn flesh of young children.  It was a car bomb coldly calculated to explode at just the right moment.

For many of us, these events are reported in quick, news flash, sound bites.  We look up, shake our heads in wonderment, and go back to sending emails and retrieving voice mail messages.  To those too busy to pay attention, they may appear to be widely dispersed acts of random violence and the victims were caught up in them because of some perverse twist of fate, like being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Maybe we are becoming somewhat accustomed to these events and as long as they don't happen to us, we can move beyond them and change the subject.

The use of children as tools of terror ought to tell us all something.  Those perpetrating these crimes have no moral, ethical or legal boundaries.  While we publicly debate the extent to which forcing a male detainee to wear women's underwear is some kind of measure of our national decline in values, they are conducting graduation ceremonies for the next class of Hasid Hussains.

Somehow, we must come to grips with a sense of proportion in all this.  Look closely at our kids, hug them and reaffirm that they are the most precious gifts we have.

Why...because they are many out there who see them only as tools for terror.

Semper Fidelis

Dave St. John is a frequent contributor.

British investigations of the recent London bombings have been precise, methodical and effective.  In a very short period of time they have identified four young men all of whom evidence suggests were the terrorists responsible for last week's carnage against innocent British civilians.  News reports continue to trace the linkages of these murderers to other groups and other countries.
 
The one aspect of this case that haunts me the most, however, was the face of the youngest terrorist, Hasib Hussain, age 18, the seemingly innocent schoolboy now world—famous.

I am not sure how old he was when the picture was taken but he could have been any kid down the street, playing a video game, watching TV, throwing a baseball around or a myriad of other activities we in the States would term normal activities.  As a teenager in England, his interests are reported to have included both football and cricket, not exactly basic training for a suicide bomber.  His parents seemed totally shocked that their son was involved in such treachery.

Somewhere, somehow, this young man's circumstances were carefully studied and analyzed and those who could change the course of his life began leading him into the dark realm of pure, hellish evil.

Think for a minute about those times in our own country when teenagers conspired, planned and executed plots that brought a level of chilling violence to themselves as well as peers and classmates.  Think about the overwhelming attention, focus, investigation, remorse, second guessing, agony and nightmares that these events caused all of us to go through whether we were directly associated with them or merely read about them.

Some horribly misguided cynics among us might even try to make the moral equivalency between those acts and the act committed by Hussain.  There is no moral equivalency whatsoever.

The demise of this young man can be conveniently laid at the feet of such things as out of touch parents, poverty, political, social and religious isolation and disenfranchisement as well as the belief that no matter what he may do in life, the western world will never accept him.  All of these things may be contributing causes, but they mask the real evil that pulled this boy into a world of darkness few of us in the west can comprehend...or worse yet want to comprehend.

Somewhere along the way, he met one or more people who swept any semblance of individuality and goodness from his heart and mind and replaced them with the idea that his sole purpose on this earth was to kill innocent people indiscriminately.  Imagine what went through his mind when that morning arrived and he slipped his arms through his backpack already filled with explosives knowing that he was just minutes away from his own death.  Think for a moment about how deeply embedded in his psyche was this mission of hate and evil and how calmly he approached it.  What does this tell us about the motives, drive, intensity and no holds barred approach his handlers used to accomplish their ends?  What does this tell us about how dedicated and effective they are regarding taking the most innocent among us and turning them into killing machines?  Can we in our wildest dreams comprehend this level of evil?

But wait, their use of kids as tools of evil doesn't end with Hussain.  Picture a side street in Iraq filled with little kids getting candy from some smiling American soldiers.  This happy scene in a country not noted for happiness suddenly dissolves in a blinding flash of shredded metal mingled with the torn flesh of young children.  It was a car bomb coldly calculated to explode at just the right moment.

For many of us, these events are reported in quick, news flash, sound bites.  We look up, shake our heads in wonderment, and go back to sending emails and retrieving voice mail messages.  To those too busy to pay attention, they may appear to be widely dispersed acts of random violence and the victims were caught up in them because of some perverse twist of fate, like being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Maybe we are becoming somewhat accustomed to these events and as long as they don't happen to us, we can move beyond them and change the subject.

The use of children as tools of terror ought to tell us all something.  Those perpetrating these crimes have no moral, ethical or legal boundaries.  While we publicly debate the extent to which forcing a male detainee to wear women's underwear is some kind of measure of our national decline in values, they are conducting graduation ceremonies for the next class of Hasid Hussains.

Somehow, we must come to grips with a sense of proportion in all this.  Look closely at our kids, hug them and reaffirm that they are the most precious gifts we have.

Why...because they are many out there who see them only as tools for terror.

Semper Fidelis

Dave St. John is a frequent contributor.