Three young boys who were recovered from a ‘handler’ training them to become suicide bombers were released by a civil court on Saturday and allowed to go back to their families.
The boys were arrested by Sarai Naurang police from a check post. Judicial Magistrate on Duty Malik Hasnain ordered their release after receiving surety bonds.
The boys, neighbours living in Awan Colony, Karachi, recalled their story on how when they met their handler and how they were eventually rescued.
Rehan, aged 14, is from Sara Rogha in South Waziristan and studies in the Grade 6 in Karachi. His father owns and drives a truck.
After attending school, Rehan used to go to Iqra Madinatul Uloom seminary near his house, where a religious cleric called Naeem told him stories about Miranshah. “I began to feel like I had to visit that place,” Rehan recalled. Along with Naeem, a man identified as Niaz also used to visit the seminary. This led to discussions about visiting Miranshah.
Rehan and two of his neighbours, Shah Hussain and Mukhtiar Ahmad, went to the cleric Naeem to arrange their visit. “We had no idea we were going to a Taliban training camp,” Rehan said, and named another man, Yahya, who was also involved in the scheme.
Rehan said it was Niaz who repeatedly pushed them to visit Miranshah.
Rehan’s neighbour, Mukhtiar, also from Sara Rogha, said after 2003 his family did not visit the area where he grew up again, because of hostilities.
He said before they left Karachi, Niaz had taken them to Bangi Parha where they met another handler, Yahya, a resident of Bhutto Colony.
Yahya also said he was a cleric at a nearby seminary. Niaz ‘handed’ them over to Yahya and the three boys were taken in a rickshaw to Sohrab Goth. Again, they met Naeem who gave Rs5,000 to Yahya for food and tickets.
Mukhtiar said that throughout the journey Yahya narrated religious stories and bought food and sweets for them.
He said that the bus tickets Yahya bought were for Ghandi Chowk in Lakki Marwat, not Peshawar. When the bus reached DI Khan at around 5am, Yahya received a phone call. They were left at Qureshi Morh in DI Khan, approximately 130 kilometres away from their destination in Lakki Marwat.
Mukhtiar said that Yahya hired a rickshaw after they were dropped off to take them to another passenger coach bound for Bannu.
When they boarded the coach bound for Bannu, they were stopped at Serai Naurang check post, about 19 kilometres from the bus stand in Bannu.
Here, all three boys were apprehended by security forces and Yahya was finally exposed and arrested.
Shah Hussain, the third youngster, was born in Tank but migrated to Karachi. He said his father is a taxi driver and he is studying in the fifth grade.
Shah said that he seemed not fully conscious while he was on the journey and suspected that Yahya might have mixed substances in their food.
“We were deceived by Niaz. He wanted to turn us into suicide bombers only so that we could kill innocent people,” Shah said.
Unfortunately, stories such as this are not uncommon. Youngsters are being targeted. Luckily for Shah, Rehan and Mukhtiar, a security check post was enough to save them from a life much shorter than they would have imagined.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2012.
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