Afghan President Pardons Teenage Suicide Bomber
In a move that is sure to upset some, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pardoned a teenage suicide bomber and sent him home to Pakistan.
The extraordinary case involved Rafiqullah, 14, a would-be suicide bomber, who was captured in May by Afghan police in the province of Khost, which borders Pakistan. He was wearing a suicide vest and riding a motorbike. His target was Arsala Jamal, the governor of the province.
He had crossed the border from South Waziristan, a troubled tribal belt in Pakistan, where he lived and had been attending a religious school. “Today we are facing a hard fact, that is, a Muslim child was sent to madrassa [religious school] to learn Islamic subjects, but the enemies of Afghanistan misled him towards suicide and prepared him to die and kill,” Mr Karzai told reporters.
Karzai issued the pardon at a formal ceremony:
In a highly unusual ceremony, Mr Karzai put his hand on the boy’s shoulder as he spoke and blamed those who had encouraged him to carry out the attack – a sideswipe against the failure of the authorities in Pakistan to crack down on such madrassas.
“His family thought their child was learning Islamic studies,” said Mr Karzai. “That is not his fault, nor his father’s. The enemies of Islam wanted him to destroy his life and those of other Muslims. I pardon him and wish him a good life.”
As to factors that weighed in favor of the pardon, one was that the boy's intended victim supported it.
Arsala Jamal, the governor of Khost, said: “He is a child. I don’t believe it was his idea. He was brainwashed. Actually it was my decision to free him. I told the President he should be free.”
Karzai's parting words to Rafiqullah:
“You are now free and forgiven by the people of Afghanistan,” Mr Karzai said, a grin spreading across his face as he spoke to the child.
|< The Politics of Iraq | The State Of Fred Hiatt's Brain >|