“Do you know who I will kill with this gun?” a little boy says into the video camera, waving his toy pistol. “Who will you kill with this gun?” the cameraman asks. “The infidels.”
Among those seen in the 28-minute video urging the children to fight and become “martyrs” is a former Toronto resident, Omar Hammami, alias Abu Mansour the American.
The scene appears in a new video by the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab that shows the Somali militant group indoctrinating children, some of whom appear to be toddlers.
The video, distributed on the Internet this week by Al-Shabab’s propaganda arm, shows a “children’s fair” hosted by Al-Shabab leaders. The boys and girls, identified as the children of “martyrs,” are given balloons and snacks and rewarded with toy guns for correctly identifying the late leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, from a picture.
“What brought us together today is the blood of the martyrs,” Mr. Hammami tells the children, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. “So on the necks of the attendants today rests the responsibility of blood. Each of us should assume a part of this responsibility.
“As men, we have to continue the fighting started by those heroes. We have to abide by the principles for which those heroes were martyred. They honoured the responsibility on them.”
Mr. Hammami then urges their mothers, who appear to be seated at the back of the room, to encourage the children to “learn military sciences” and tells the kids they “have to work hard and try to be like their hero fathers who were martyred in this path.”
The children are later shown holding their plastic guns while waving black Al-Shabab flags in a pose reminiscent of terrorist videos. One child crawls prone on the floor with his rifle while another grimaces and aims his toy AK-47 at the camera.
“We are horrified by these images and by the exploitation of these very young Somali children by senior leaders of the Al-Shabab terrorist group,” said Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress.
“The central role played by Omar Hammami in the recruitment of these very young children to Al-Shabab proves to us that foreign extremists will stop at nothing to bring further misery to Somalia,” he said.
“We hope that this video will unmask the true nature of the Al-Shabab and make Somalis everywhere realize the fact that this group has never cared about the welfare of Somalis despite its rhetoric of doing so.”
Al-Shabab is a Taliban-like armed extremist group that is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s United Nations-backed government. It is notorious for its suicide bombings and assassinations of government officials, activists and journalists.
Ottawa outlawed Al-Shabab last month due to concerns it was attempting to radicalize and recruit young Somali Canadians. Federal security officials are investigating six Toronto youths who allegedly joined Al-Shabab last year. One of them, Mohamed Elmi Ibrahim, a University of Toronto student, has reportedly died.
Al-Shabab has attracted recruits from Canada, Europe, Australia and the United States. Mr. Hammami is an Alabama-born American Muslim who moved to Toronto in 2005 and married a Canadian Somali. The following year, he travelled to Somalia to join Al-Shabab.
In its annual report to Parliament on Wednesday, Canada’s intelligence service described Somalia as a “magnet for international terrorists” who have converged in the African nation to create a Taliban-like state.
It also warned that Canadians who travel there to participate in the conflict “may be drawn into global jihad circles, where they are subsequently recruited to carry out attacks against perceived enemies of Islam.”
The RCMP and FBI have said they are concerned that Canadian and U.S. recruits could return from Al-Shabab’s camps to conduct terrorist attacks in North America. The CSIS report called the Somali conflict “a direct threat to Canadian and international security.” NATIONAL POST H/T Islamization Watch