Afghanistan Is Trying to Save Its Child Bombers.
In a room full of loud teenagers, 17-year-old Mohammad Ehsan is the quietest. (The names of the boys in this piece have been changed to protect their identities.) The other boys in this juvenile rehabilitation center in the Afghan capital of Kabul are rough and boisterous; he takes the corner-most seat and avoids making eye contact. He speaks only when spoken to, sometimes answering with just a single word. As we talk, he stares at the floor or fidgets with the corner of his white shalwar kameez, as though he would rather be anywhere else than here.
His silence and his fear were hard-learned. Ehsan is one of 27 teenagers in this facility recruited and trained by the Taliban or the Islamic State to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the country’s endless war. Some, including Ehsan, were held in the Bagram prison located outside of Kabul, formerly operated by the United States. The other children are afraid of associating with them. “They’re too political and dangerous,” a young man incarcerated for murder said.