The video footage recently discovered by American forces in Iraq, which was broadcast on news satellite channels showing Iraqi children carrying out mock attacks against American military targets in Iraq did not cause as much shock as such it should have. Let us be more precise; the issue was not “new” to Arab and Iraqi public opinion. Two masked boys, no older than 12 years of age, carried real machine guns and rifles, stormed houses and pointed their weapons at the heads of supposed residents. There were other similar scenes of children announcing the deaths of hostages, and the images of the Iraqi boys brought back memories of the Afghan child who was pushed by the Taliban to carry out murder; only that was real and not practice.
The scenes of the Al Qaeda movement training Iraqi children were quickly broadcast in what the movement views as promotion for its methods. The tape was discovered by American forces as it carried out raids north east of Baghdad. It seems that the technique of training via the video camera is a method used by Al Qaeda in Iraq. This tape reminds us of older footage aired by the Kurdish government showing a senior member of the Al Qaeda movement slaughtering hostages with the aim of training members of the movement on how to carry out beheadings and accustoming them to such blood and violence.
In Al Qaeda’s latest video, one child appears to be wearing an explosive vest. Masks impeded a clear view of the children’s faces though we got to hear their voices as they clearly repeated phrases such as “God is the greatest” and threatened their presumed victims with murder.
The videotape did not cause any commotion or uproar within Arab public opinion as expected. It did not receive extensive media coverage and some prominent news channels did not broadcast this news item at all.
It seems that the Al Qaeda movement is still determined to have an influence upon an entire generation of Iraqi children and to send them to do the devils work.
It is an issue over which we no longer deliberate as if we have surrendered to it.
It seems that the rifts that inflict our societies have become deeper than we imagined. Our basic foundations of humanity are collapsing in a frightful manner.
Recently, we received news of Al Qaeda’s use of two mentally disabled women to detonate explosive devices and today we see images of children who are being trained to fight and kill.
And what result has these images and news brought about?
Let us return to the issue of the media that seems to have settled for its sole role as broadcaster of news and images whilst the issue requires so much more. There is no doubt that such news and images would have affected different people of different generations and ages in different ways. Perhaps what we need now is for the impact of such news upon us to be examined and to determine whether their recurrence normalizes such actions in our perception as recipients of these news and images.
If this is the case, then this issue deserves to be stopped and looked at since such acts are not normal and are not exceptions owing to the gravity of their consequences. Before we display such images, we should first think about how we can preserve the impact that they may have so that they do not become normal in the eyes of the viewer; however, it seems that this has happened already.