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Hello, Mother, Hello Fodder...
That's cannon fodder for Allah we're talking about, which is what mentally handicapped children in Iraq become.



The dreams 13-year-old Barak Muhammad (not his real name) had of leading a normal teenage life were dashed when his father sold him to al-Qaeda militants. Being mentally handicapped, he said he was considered a burden by his family and was told he would be better off sacrificing his life for his country.

"I don't have a mother and never went to school. I was dreaming of a day that I would go to school like my other brothers, but I was considered different. My father was always telling me that I was a mistake in his life, a boy that was just bringing expenses and problems," Barak said.

Barak's father sold him to al-Qaeda in Iraq for US $10,000 to support his remaining five children. Now, Barak is in training to fight US and Iraqi troops.

"Today, I help some men who say they are from al-Qaeda group. They fight people who are occupying Iraq and they said that if I do my work well, God will protect me and make me be a healthy boy," Barak said, adding that fighters promised him that he would soon join his mother in heaven.

Carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle, Barak said he accompanies insurgents during night time raids and when needed acts as a decoy to divert the attention of US or Iraqi forces in the run-up to an attack.

Abu Ahmed, who claims to be a spokesman for al-Qaeda in Iraq and Barak's trainer, said they were giving him a better life.

"We're doing a favour to Barak. We're giving him the chance to be useful and not suffer daily beatings from his father. Here, with us, he gets Islamic lessons and is soon going to be a good fighter and maybe one day even become a suicide bomber in the name of God," Abu Ahmed said.

A question: If your god is so great, how come he needs retarded children to do his business?

Posted by aalkon at April 12, 2007 11:08 AM


Actually, this is a troubling sign for the Sunni religiously inspired insurgency in Iraq. I am surprised the kid and the A.Q. handler were interviewed.

Posted by: Joe at April 12, 2007 6:01 AM

This is Iraq, confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, cradle of civilization, deep in Islamic country. I don't know which is worse, people who sell their children, or jihaddists who buy them. It is time for a big meteorite to hit the area.

Posted by: doombuggy at April 12, 2007 7:08 AM

That would solve a few things. Repopulate with modern, rational human beings -- if there isn't too much radiation.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 12, 2007 7:12 AM

I wonder if the Saudi Princes, reading stories in the NYT of American crack mothers who sell their children for drugs, think the same of us.

Posted by: eric at April 12, 2007 7:43 AM

Why does God need a retarded child? Same reason He needs a starship. (Yes, that movie was generally pretty terrible...but that line is a good one.)

eric, I have a feeling that the Saudi Princes think that our country is corrupt and stupid whenever they read about women being permitted to become Majority Leader and Secretary of State. I'm not particularly worried about their point of view except insofar as to how it pertains to my (and other people's) physical safety.

Posted by: marion at April 12, 2007 8:22 AM

If their god is so great, why does he create retarded children in the first place and parents who are so selfish, disillusioned and ignorant?

I guess that was an easy way out for the father - I can't see how a rational or moral person would think it's ok to sell your child (and send him to his death no less). That said, because it's "for Allah" that makes it "ok." It's not amoral or disturbing to sell your child for cash, knowing he's going to die, when it is for the sake of religion, right? Right? This was Allah's plan for him!! Come on people, get with the regime, I mean program.

Posted by: Gretchen at April 12, 2007 8:29 AM

...and just to elaborate on Marion's comment regarding Eric's - I'm pretty sure we all agree that the crack whore who has sex for drugs, then has a baby, then sells that baby for money is a royal asshole. No matter where you live or how you're brought up, I'm sure you'd say that that's effed up. We have our problems here in the U.S but we all agree that that sort of thing is wrong.

No one here is trying to justify the selling of children for drugs (just to run with the example). No one here is using religion as a blanket excuse for any bullshit behavior committed by asshole parents...or just assholes in general.

The point is - that's what the father was doing. And there are many people who agree with his decision and follow a similarly irrational line of thinking. That's scary.

Posted by: Gretchen at April 12, 2007 8:39 AM

Amy, that's a horrible story, but how's that different from anyone else
abusing children (priests, fathers, mothers, syblings, doctors, day care
center employees, teachers, schoolmates, strangers, etc... ad infinitum)?

Estimated number of children in the US investigated for abuse by Child
Protective services in 2004 - 3,503,000
Estimated no. of victims - 872,000

Estimated fatalities - 1,490

Posted by: Hasan at April 12, 2007 8:54 AM

My only point is just as we read these articles, an impression is formed, and strengthened by similar articles. I am sure the vast majority of Iraqi parents love their children and want nothing but the best for them. We are so used to the luxury of our own lifestyles that I doubt any of us could put ourselves into the shoes of that Iraqi father, and maybe that is a story that should be investigated. That's all.

Posted by: eric at April 12, 2007 8:59 AM


The difference is that in one case, the child is being abused by the official regime/religion/whatever, while in the other case, the child is being abused by individuals who are breaking the law. You might say that it's not much difference from the child's point of view, but I disagree. In the one case, the child will receive help from the authorities; in the other case, the child is a victim of the authorities and has literally no-one to turn to.

But I like your style of argument: because there's something horrible in the US, anything goes elsewhere in the world! So, when your house is on fire, we can say lots of other houses are on fire in other countries, stop complaining.

Posted by: Norman at April 12, 2007 9:03 AM

Hassan - read my previous comment.

I am American, living in Boston. I will speak in generalities, but I doubt anyone will challenge them:

1) No one I know would every condone child abuse
2) No one I know would say child abuse in the U.S is a non issue
3) I was born/raised Catholic, my family and I are utterly disgusted w/ the abuses w/in the church. Our being Catholic doesn't mean we think molesting children is OK.
4) Child molestation within the church was a problem of individuals - NO ONE ever said that "God" told them to do it, and if they were to say that, people would scoff and puke.
5) No one in the U.S can get away with abusing children in anyway by saying it was for their religion. Abuse is abuse and that's the end of that.

The argument wasn't that the United States is some wonderful place where children aren't hurt. That would be absurd. The argument was that using religion and God/Allah as a justification for such abuse is bullshit. The abuse is wrong, no matter why it is committed and the point is that no religious reasoning can vindicate a child abuser. If there is a God and He thinks abusing or selling children is okay then I'll take a one-way ticket south.

Posted by: Gretchen at April 12, 2007 9:03 AM

Not to change the subject, but doesn't this tactic reflect a certain desperation on the part of the Islamic militants? There's a billion damn Muslims in the world, and you're telling me al-Qaeda can't recruit enough able adults to stage a night raid? This kid's not an unarmed human shield or a "go into the disco and push this button" suicide vest wearer; they're TRAINING him. Considering that he's mentally handicapped and never been to school, I wonder how well that's going. Aren't child soldiers usually the last act of a desperate regime?

Posted by: Gary S. at April 12, 2007 9:29 AM

This story is just heartbreaking.

Posted by: deja pseu at April 12, 2007 9:41 AM

Actually, there are about 1.6 billion "damn" Muslims, and only about 1.5% of them live in Iraq.

Posted by: eric at April 12, 2007 9:51 AM

Are you sure it's real? It has the odor of a composite... All from very authentic components, we would be assured.

Child soldiers are the last tactic of the desperate, just the NEXT tactic. The Iranians did that in their war with Iraq, chaining boys to machine guns in the desert. Twenty years later they're still in business.

Posted by: Crid at April 12, 2007 9:54 AM

Are you sure it's real?

Note this at the top of the story:

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

Not that I would put this beyond some people of the terrorist mindset, but this seems fake to me. The boy is much too articulate, the story too over-the-top awful and tragic. I hope I'm right.

Posted by: justin case at April 12, 2007 10:00 AM

That's what I was thinking, Justin. A young, mentally challenged child who has never been too school wouldn't be this well spoken.

Posted by: Gretchen at April 12, 2007 10:09 AM

He's speaking in English too! Duh.

Posted by: Norman at April 12, 2007 11:25 AM

Islamist movements have always recruited young children as spies and scouts during an insurrection. The practice has been used for the last 1,400 years.

The original article was published under the IRIN Humanitarian News service for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Posted by: Joe at April 12, 2007 12:31 PM

Joe: Nevah hoid of 'em. The UN we'ver heard of, and are not impressed. What's yoru judjment of IRIN etc?

Gary's comment carries some weight, though. It's like the manipulative forces who composed this piece (whatever side they're on) concede that you'd have to be raised in slavery and retardation in order to sign up for the project. Modernity, unlike Allah, is good to you whether you believe in it or not.

Posted by: Crid at April 12, 2007 12:59 PM

They are J-School drop outs. More like publicists for the Office of Humanitarian Affairs. Don't take IRIN's stories seriously.

A few years ago US AID agencies made their little fake news broadcasts on how the US occupation was working in Iraq. These same govt. inspired public relations stunts made their way to legitimate evening news broadcasts. IRIN is doing the same thing with Reuters.

Personally, I only trust two journalists who has been with the various elements of the insurrection groups within Iraq. NBC's Richard Engel and CNN's Michael Ware.

Posted by: Joe at April 12, 2007 1:27 PM

Something else occurs to me. Remember the "Al Qaeda Employment Contract" story from about a year ago? According to documents the Feds got their hands on, AQ operatives got paid a maximum of $108 a month. But they pay $10,000 for a slow child? I realize that the $108 salary may also be BS (I don't know what to believe out of that region anymore), but those figures are awfully inconsistent.

Posted by: Gary S. at April 12, 2007 2:18 PM

Norman, just because the authorities aren't abusing children doesn't guarantee that they will stop or prevent it, but point taken. And of course I'm not arguing that it's all right for there to be abuse their because there's abuse here. The point is we should be fighting abuse everywhere. Nobody's going to argue that point with me, I hope.

As to Gretchen, who, other than an abuser, is going to argue that child exploitation and abuse is OK? That's why I don't get the point of this. We already KNOW that al-Qaeda is very, very, very, terrible. Are we supposed to be even more astonished when they venture into a new style of evilness? THEY'RE EVIL, I GET IT!

Amy always paints Islam as one massive clusterfuck of evilness. Why? Is that reality? Should I view any group of people that way? All women are evil? All blacks are evil? All homosexuals are evil? A meteor to the Middle East? There are child abusers in the US, so why not a meteor to the West, where evil also dwells?

Finally, please watch this interview of Michael Oren before it gets taken down (middle vid, 2nd half) or at least the last 8 minutes where he states that "...Sunni Arabs understand that Israel and the Sunni Arab world face a common threat in the form of Shiite Iran...", and where he states that Americans badly need to educated in a language and culture that we simply do not understand.

Posted by: Hasan at April 12, 2007 3:20 PM

Feel free to respell that misspelled "their" as "there" in your mind.

Posted by: Hasan at April 12, 2007 3:23 PM

And the missing "be". Hmmm, preview next time, huh?

Posted by: Hasan at April 12, 2007 3:24 PM

> Amy always paints Islam as
> one massive clusterfuck
> of evilness.

Not true! Every few days she finds a new clusterfuck and notes that it's Islamic. (She does the same thing to religious people of all kinds, and I've been bitching at her about it for years.) It would be neat if there were a tidal force of moderation in Islamic life, people who do fun things like read advice columnist's blogs, to correct her misinterpretation. She has Christians who do that.

But those moderate, playful, comfortably chattering Muslims never turn up... Which is telling.

Every year I count up my own online typos and resolve never to tease another for theirs. Then a moment to mock someone comes, and I think "NEXT year...."

Posted by: Crid at April 12, 2007 4:14 PM

Also, you're wrong about the Josh Bell thing.

Posted by: Crid at April 12, 2007 4:24 PM

Well, I got the idea that Islamic terrorists were evil (and no, I did not say all Muslims were evil and never suggested a meteor should fall on the Middle East), but yes, I was still surprised at this. It definitely raised (or lowered) the bar on the depravity I thought these people were capable of. I'm still reeling from it. When jihadist parents have a handicapped child now, does "Ka-ching!" go off in their heads?

Posted by: Patrick at April 12, 2007 4:42 PM

ka-ching- kaboom.
Who dat in da room
iz goona blow it up
yo car yo tomb
when I'z push dis button
ka-ching - kaboom

" The Knappy Headed Ho's"

Posted by: wb at April 12, 2007 8:43 PM

" The Knappy Headed Ho's"

Cute, but not relevant.

What Josh Bell thing?

Posted by: Hasan at April 12, 2007 11:02 PM

Not true! Every few days she finds a new clusterfuck and notes that it's Islamic.

Killer, LOL11!!!1!11leeT|-|1570ry!

Posted by: Hasan at April 12, 2007 11:11 PM

> What Josh Bell thing?

On your blog. There's no reason that people SHOULD care about someone performing that kind of music in that kind of setting. The WaPo piece was a 7500 word cluck. The joke coulda been told in three paragraphs. I liked Weingartens piece on the Gret Zucchini, though:

> Killer [etc]

Too hip for the room. What do you mean?

Posted by: Crid at April 13, 2007 4:18 AM

> What Josh Bell thing?

That was sarcasm. See that red link at the bottom of the post that says "Comment"? It's for leaving... comments. Over there. On my blog. Word, yo.

Posted by: Hasan at April 13, 2007 9:03 AM

I just want to say that "Hello Mother, Hello Fodder" is a damn great headline.

Posted by: Gary S. at April 13, 2007 10:41 AM

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