My First AK-47: Kids Awarded Guns in Somali Recruitment Game

AFRICA, 3 Oct 2011

Der Spiegel – TRANSCEND Media Service

Islamists fighting a civil war in Somalia have come up with a new way to find young new recruits. To stir up interest, they have reportedly resorted to using games, offering automatic weapons, hand grenades and cash as prizes to children who call in to take part in the fun.

Islamists in Somalia are resorting to desperate measures to gain new recruits. A radio station operated by the Al-Shabab militant group ran a quiz for children and youths earlier this month in which the main prize was an AK-47 assault rifle plus the equivalent of $700 and religious books.

The second prize was an AK-47 plus $500 and religious literature. The third prize was two hand grenades and $400. The prizes were recently handed over to the winning contestants by Shabab leader Sheikh Moktar Robow Abu Mansur at a location near the capital, Mogadishu.

“Children should have one hand on the Koran but the other on a rifle to defend Islam,” he said.

Recruiting Troubles

One of the questions asked was, “In which war was our leader Sheikh Timajilic killed?”

Recruiting fighters for the civil war in Somalia is evidently becoming more difficult. In mid-September, 10 youths were abducted after refusing to join Shabab. Two of them were found murdered shortly afterwards.

Al-Shabab is an al-Qaida-linked group fighting Somalia’s central government and African Union troops in Mogadishu. It controls large parts of southern Somalia where it has imposed its strict interpretation of Islam. It is estimated to have some 15,000 fighters.

SPIEGEL Staff — with wires

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