Brainwashing Children with Virgins and Honey

Here’s a disturbing way to start your day.

Recently, in Pakistan, a suicide bomber training facility was discovered. Inside, children ages 12 to 18 were trained to become martyrs for the Islamic faith.

This picture, which was on one of the walls of the facility, shows a river full of milk and honey as well as the virgins the children will receive in heaven. I repeat: they’re telling 12-year-olds about the virgins waiting for them in heaven.

What the hell.

Where do these kids even come from?

The children were from the local area. [Brigadier Sarfraz Satter] says the parents would send them thinking they were getting an education and, more importantly, free food.

“But they don’t know what kind of religious education their child is being put through.” Satter says, acknowledging that for the next phase of operations to succeed, there has to be a focus on education. “When we start our rehabilitation, we have to reopen schools to stop them [the parents] from sending their children into the wrong hands.”

As we all know, it’s very easy to deceive children into thinking that whatever an authority figure tells them is true. This compound was no exception:

[Expert Zahid Hussein] says it’s a complete distortion of Islam, but one that the children fervently believe.

“They are also led to believe that the Muslims who are killed in suicide bombings, they will go to heaven as well. So that is a very powerful instrument of brainwashing,” he adds.

“Almost 90 percent of suicide bombers, if you look at their profile, are 12 to 18 years old,” Hussein says.

This brainwashing compound is gone, but I’m afraid that many more like it are probably still out there.

How do you fix a problem like this? I doubt it’s feasible to close down every single compound like this — that effort might be futile — but we can try to educate moderates Muslims about what is going on in the name of their faith in the hopes that they will take a stand against the extremists. I have doubts about how successful that would be, but I think it’s the only realistic option.

(Thanks to Ed for the link)

  • littlejohn

    OK, the milk and honey are blue. The virgins are blond. The ground is sort of blue. The question is: What planet are these kids on?

  • Lukas

    How do you fix a problem like this?

    That seams easy. Give them real schools. Should be cheaper than starting yet another war, too.

  • http://atheistweb.org Chris

    “they’re telling 12-year-olds about the virgins waiting for them in heaven”

    Aren’t they married off by then?

  • http://atheonomics.blogspot.com Richard H

    When I read the article, I was mostly shocked by how normal-sounding the brainwashing seemed. If we strip out the religion-specific details, the promises about the next-life would fit well enough into a sunday school.

    And, certainly, the goal of using children to commit suicide bombings is evil and obscene. But, except for the “it’s moral to bomb people” part, are any of the teachings especially un-Islamic?

    As I understand it, Islam really does say that there’s a paradise which waits for good people after they die. And the idea that this world is sinful and less important than the next is certainly common enough in Christianity.

    I think don’t think this is something we can fix unless we start attacking the sociological and political problems that allow terrorism to spread.

  • Andrea

    Does milk go well with honey? Is that a tasty drink? Because they actually sell both those substances here on earth, so I bet if you really wanted milk and honey we could hook you up with that.

  • Bethany

    If free food is a big reason parents send their kids to these “schools”, that free food needs to be available elsewhere.

  • http://frankcornish.wordpress.com Frank Cornish

    I doubt it’s feasible to close down every single compound like this — that effort might be futile — but we can try to educate moderates Muslims about what is going on in the name of their faith in the hopes that they will take a stand against the extremists.

    I would imagine that they all ready know about this and are trying to get our attention on it.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Perhaps the kids should be told that it isn’t virgins that await them but little white raisins.

  • Claudia

    Offering them a real education is essential of course, but not enough.

    The Taliban are using the same tactics as drug lords in Latin American countries use; a combination of bribes and threats. The threats we all understand, but the bribes must also be met. Drug lords will often open up schools, or clinics, or hand out food. Often, they are the only source of authority, order and social services in their area. It is impossible to eject them from areas until you start competing with them for services.

    Our inherent need to turn our enemies into cartoons sometimes prevents us from fighting them effectively. Yes they are evil, but they also attract people to them by providing schools, and food, in places where the “legitimate” government offers neither. It’s not enough that we up the cost of being our enemy (by killing them), especially when you’re dealing with an enemy groomed to want to die. You have to take care of the essential needs of the populace, or more fighters will stand where we felled the previous ones.

  • Trace

    So camels can have faces but horses can’t?

  • Jeff Dale

    “they’re telling 12-year-olds about the virgins waiting for them in heaven”

    Aren’t they married off by then?

    Only the girls.

  • littlejohn

    Wait a minute! I recognize that scene now. It was back in the ’70s, when acid was still popular… Far out, dude. Look! My hands are enormous! Watch the tracers! Whoop-whoop.

  • Shannon

    “Our inherent need to turn our enemies into cartoons sometimes prevents us from fighting them effectively. . . . You have to take care of the essential needs of the populace, or more fighters will stand where we felled the previous ones.”

    100% yes.

  • J

    I read this story on CNN, and couldn’t understand why they were soooo up in arms over the murals.

    How are they any different, much less worse, than anything you’ll see in your average sunday school classroom? Depictions of angels, and god, and jesus, and heaven, and so on and so forth really isn’t any different than what’s depicted on those murals.

    Do things for your god, go to a place made out of rivers of warm feelings, where unicorns shit eclairs, and rainbows shoot out of everyone’s asses.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Such a shame that the victims here could very well grow up to be killers. The parallels between religious indoctrination into extremism and child abuse are striking.

    I also agree with others who have said that providing real education and real food is the best way to defeat the continuing perpetration of such abuse. That means fighting poverty and raising the standard of living in Pakistan to the point where there is no reason for people to want to lash out at the wealthy west.

  • Vas

    inherent need to turn our enemies into cartoons

    we have an inherent need for cartoons!?!

    And as for brainwashing camps…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LACyLTsH4ac

    We got those too.

  • Ed

    I think Claudia, Lukas and hoverfrog are right, it is a matter of extreme poverty, and lack of education. It is heart breaking to think about what these children must be experiencing, and what the basic standard of living in this area must be like.

    In general, I think as this gallup poll shows, religion has a relationship with poverty. The more affluent a country, and the better they provide for their citizens, the less of a role religion plays in their citizens lives.

    In 2004, Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris used data from the World Values Survey to document a growing “religiosity gap” between developing and industrialized populations. They argued that people in the poorest societies live with much greater vulnerability to forces that threaten their existence, so they’re more likely than those in developed nations to rely on religion for hope. Gallup poll

    No one wants to suffer, and we all want to be happy. It is depressing to think that for so many the only way they have of dealing with their suffering is to put all their hopes and dreams in some promised future paradise. A promised future, even one there maybe scant to no evidence for, still somehow seems preferable to the misery of the present for so many.

  • Staceyjw

    If the way to get a grip on the root of the problem is to feed and educate the populace, we better get used to child terrorists. There is no way the USA will do this. Not to be too cynical, but we won’t even help our OWN poor, do you really think anyone is going to be willing to spend money to better the living conditions of “those evil muslims”? Don’t you know that they should “pull themselves out of poverty by their bootstraps”?

    Americans, in general, hate poor people (they say they don’t but actions show it), and we loathe the thought of ANYONE getting ANYTHING for “free”, no matter the reason. Telling them that improving the lives of the impoverished is in their best interests, and will make them safer, would be seen as a “socialist plot” to “rob the wealthy” and “oppress xtians”. I do realize all Americans aren’t like this, but AS A WHOLE these are the attitudes that are making policy.

    We would rather spend trillions on bombs and war then address these basic issues, which would likely be much cheaper and at least as effective. Yes, I realize that military intervention IS necessary, but it should not be the only tool we use to resolve these problems.

    And of course, religion is a HUGE part of the problem, but we won’t dare say anything about this either. After all, we tell our xtian children the SAME THINGS about heaven and the worthlessness of this material existence (minus the 72 virgins). Some xtain sects even teach their children that the government is “illegal” and second to gods laws, and they actively train them to be soldiers for christ.

    The only reason we don’t have more “xtian child” terrorists is because we have better living conditions and not as much isolation. You bet we would have xtian bombers if the xtians were as impoverished, isolated, and hopeless as their muslim counterparts. Just because xtianity is mostly peaceful AT THIS MOMENT, doesn’t mean it will always be this way.

    The only way to stop religious fanaticism is to promote rational thinking and science, but it’s a LONG (but important) road.

  • Ed

    Staceyjw, I don’t share your opinion of the general population of the US. Have a look at this study which shows strong support for foreign aid. Even when the people polled said there should be less aid given, the amount they wanted it reduced to was actually much higher than what we actually devote to foreign aid.

    However when asked to estimate how much of the budget was devoted to foreign aid, respondents vastly overestimated its size, and when asked what would be appropriate they proposed an amount far higher than the actual amount.

  • Claudia

    The only reason we don’t have more “xtian child” terrorists is because we have better living conditions and not as much isolation. You bet we would have xtian bombers if the xtians were as impoverished, isolated, and hopeless as their muslim counterparts. Just because xtianity is mostly peaceful AT THIS MOMENT, doesn’t mean it will always be this way.

    By no means is this a slam-dunk. There are abjectly poor Christians in the world, by the hundreds of millions, in Latin America, Asia and Africa. And though there is certainly more causal brutality coming from the poorer and less educated amongst the most feverently religious (I’m thinking of the plight of the African “witch children” specifically), there is still no sign of Christian suicide bombers.

    Additionally, we have fairly good evidence that Islam by itself is enough to push people into violent extremism. Osama bin Laden himself was not raised very religiously and is the son of a very wealthy family. The London bombers were affluent and British born, the last attempt just this Christmas came from a radicalized rich kid, the son of a banker, who clearly didn’t come from a radical childhood given that his own father was desperately trying to get authorities to do something about him.

    So yes, there is absolutely something to the poor/radical Islam nexus, chiefly that people you clothe, feed and give jobs to are a lot more receptive to your message, especially children. However let’s not pretend that radical Islam is not a threat onto itself; if it were we wouldn’t be getting rich kids and medical doctors blowing themselves up.

  • Angie

    OK, the milk and honey are blue. The virgins are blond.

    Where do you see virgins in the painting? I see a horse, some camels, tents, and a cluster of guys standing next to the stream, but no virgins.

  • http://virtualityforreal.blogspot.com Allytude

    I think what is needed is non-secular schools that offer the same kind of free food and a non-religious education.

  • Steve

    where is the link to Jesus Camp?

  • Twin-Skies

    It sickens me no matter how many times I read this news snippet.

    If these Taliban leaders are so adamant that their belief is true, why don’t THEY die for their cause, instead of brainwashing innocent kids to do their dirty work.

    Fucking cowards – that’s what they are.

  • Staceyjw

    @Ed
    I would like to see how people would respond if asked to support more foreign aid for poor muslims. Maybe it’s just where I’ve been living, but the animosity I see towards poor people of all races/religions in the US is intense.

    @Claudia
    I agree 100% that radical islam is a serious threat ALL ON IT OWN. I just think that it is much easier to make child terrorists, and more of them, when they are isolated and poor. There is a reason the wealthy jihadists go after poor kids en mass. They also understand that when you get someone when they are at an impressionable age, feed and care for them, you can feed them any dangerous nonsense and they will have little resistance to it. Of course adults can be swayed by the same meme, resulting in violence. Some memes are just more powerful than others, esp when mixed with the right political and social climate.

    Of course, I could be wrong about the positives of helping people overcome poverty. Some European nations have opened up their borders to poor muslim immigrants only to find that the muslims still want to kill them.

  • llewelly

    Claudia Says:
    January 7th, 2010 at 3:53 pm :

    And though there is certainly more causal brutality coming from the poorer and less educated amongst the most feverently religious (I’m thinking of the plight of the African “witch children” specifically), there is still no sign of Christian suicide bombers.

    hm. A web search turns up a few:

    http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=4223

    And consider the 19-year old Loula Abboud, a dark curl kissing her forehead and a golden cross around her neck. A Lebanese Christian, she was one of the first women to earn the title of istishhadiyah when she blew herself up in 1985 as Israeli troops moved in to capture her guerilla group near the town of Aoun in southern Lebanon.

    http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Sky-News-Archive/Article/20080641190443

    The first recorded suicide bombing came from Christian soldiers during the Crusades to free The Holy City of Jerusalem from the control of Muslim armies.During the Crusades, the Knights Templar destroyed one of their own ships with 140 Christians on board in order to kill 10 times as many Muslims in the opposing fleet.

    I suspect Christian suicide bombers are rare largely because Christianity became somewhat humanized before bombs became cheap and common.

  • muggle

    I suspect Christian suicide bombers are rare because Christianity is the religion in power in westernized nations. Whether we admit or not.

    Jesus, Vas, that was a scary video. How can they not be charged with child abuse? Yeah, yeah, religious freedom, right? I say bullshit. If that were Muslims behaving the same way, they’d be shut down pronto. That woman flat out told them to wage war on nonbelievers. Far as I’m concerned, that’s incitement to riot. But, hell, with the limit on free speech. That camp needs to be shut down for child abuse.

    And people wonder why I’m proud that my grandson knows this two word phrase and uses it appropriately: fuck you.

    They’d have lost him as soon as they dissed his hero Harry Potter. That woman would have become equal to Voldemort in his eyes. (No, I ain’t playing that thing for him to test the theory. I don’t believe in abusing children.) That said, he’d have totally smashed the freaking mug because it’d be funny. I only hope some of those kids didn’t take it any more seriously than that.

  • Angie

    Muggle — The “Kids on Fire” camp shown in Jesus Camp was shut down in 2006.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003365311_jesuscamp08.html

    It has since regrouped as an organization called Kids in Ministry International, according to Wikipedia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_On_Fire_School_of_Ministry

    The Kids in Ministry International website is at https://kidsinministry.org

  • muggle aka somebody

    Thanks, Angie, for the info. Sadly, it doesn’t look like they shut down because of the law catching up to them. Man, Becky Fischer is one sick puppy. Calling her fiery is rather an understatement and way too complimentary.


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