Has ‘suicide bomber’ replaced ‘cops and robbers’?
Issued on: Modified:
An amateur video circulating on the Internet of children apparently play-acting a suicide bombing somewhere in the mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, has ignited a debate across British media. However, Pakistani Observers have raised questions over the authenticity of the video, arguing it could be a propaganda tool to “influence public opinion in Europe and the US”.
An amateur video circulating on the Internet of children apparently play-acting a suicide bombing somewhere in the mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, has ignited a debate across the UK media. However, Pakistani Observers have raised questions over the authenticity of the video, arguing that it could be a propaganda tool to, “influence public opinion in Europe and the US”.
The video, uploaded on YouTube, shows local children apparently recreating the scene of a terrorist attack. The boy, dressed in black, enacts the part of the ‘bomber’. During the 84-second clip, he is hugged and wished well by his friends. A sentry tries to stop him but in the end, the child pulls the imaginary chord.
The British media has been up in arms about the video, with respected broadsheet the Guardian stating that the video “highlighted the disturbing psychological impact of Taliban violence on a generation”, while the popular newspaper the Daily Mail slammed the video as, “sickening”.
FRANCE24 Observers in Pakistan have questioned the views expressed by the UK press. According to them, the video does not show children playing spontaneously but rather, “children constantly looking upward waiting to be told what to do next.” They argue that the children could have been instructed to participate in the role-playing exercise.
Video posted on Youtube.
"These children do not seem to take this game seriously. That is reassuring"
Sana N. lives in Karachi, Pakistan
When I saw the video, I knew that it had to have been filmed by an adult. These children aren’t acting naturally.
Around the world children play cops and robbers. When they play ‘suicide bomber’ they are simply imitating, and not playing a game they themselves came up with. These children do not seem to take this game seriously. That is reassuring. If they really believed this, they wouldn’t be making fun of it.
It makes me sad that someone could manipulate children to make a video like this, but I am not surprised. There are many films made about terrorism in Pakistan. Unfortunately, that’s because people cannot talk about their fears openly or simply lead normal lives. I think people are trying to deal with the frustration of not being able to talk about this. This video could be a product of that frustration and using children to re-enact the event could be a shock and awe technique to highlight the fact that this hate and violence starts at a young age or affects children
Post written with Peggy Bruguière, journalist at FRANCE24.
"The person who filmed this video staged a scenario to make people believe that children were playing. For me, the person who did this took advantage of these kids"
Tahir Imran Mian is a TV producer in Islamabad, Pakistan.
This video does not show Pachtun children having a good time playing. I believe it shows a sketch that is repeated several times. The person who filmed this staged a whole show to make people believe they were kids playing normally. The kids are obviously looking at a third person who could be an adult based on the camera angle. Children look upwards. The way that they are playing isn’t natural. For me, the person who did this took advantage of these kids.
Originally, this video was first posted on the Facebook account of an Internet user from Waziristan [near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border]. When I reached out to him via Facebook, he told me that he works as a chauffeur in the Middle East. He told me he got the video from a friend who sent it to his mobile phone. He said he didn’t know where the video came from. After we started to exchange messages on Facebook, he deleted the video. I think he was afraid the media would start contacting him thinking he had filmed the video.
“The fact that this video is on the Web today only further proves that someone wanted it to be there"
I think this video was filmed somewhere in Pakistan’s mountainous region in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas, known for being a haven for Taliban insurgents]. The children are wearing the traditional garb from that region. I think they could be students that go to school at a nearby madrasas (religious schools). The video is good quality and the people from that region are generally poor. And, the most sophisticated technology stops at mobile phones. I think this shows that whoever shot this, clearly wanted to disperse it on the Web.
“This video could be targeted at the West to tell them that a new generation is being raised to become suicide bombers”
It is difficult to say who could have filmed this and I think they are many possibilities. It could have been the Taliban. The message could have targeted the US to tell them, ‘You see this is the price of war. Stop fighting the Taliban.’ It could have been Pakistanis discontent with the government policies against the Taliban. Namely, those imposed by Washington after 9-11. The message is the same: look at the games our children play […] and in the end, they’ll become suicide bombers.