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Kuwait: Fundamentalists Recruiting Teens
ap ^ | Mon Sep 6, 3:19 AM E | By DIANA ELIAS, Associated Press Writer

Posted on 09/06/2004 1:06:46 PM PDT by Flavius

KUWAIT CITY - Every Friday, 17-year-old Dhari al-Zahameel's family would wait for him to come back from the mosque so they could have lunch together. Then one day the young al-Zahameel didn't come home, instead sending word he had gone to fight in the jihad, or holy war.

The teenager did not say where he was headed, but his father, Othman al-Zahameel, found out the boy had taken a flight to Syria that day — April 30 — with a friend of about the same age. The final destination was not difficult to figure out: Iraq (news - web sites).

The elder al-Zahameel told The Associated Press he made several fruitless trips to Syria to search for his son. Then, in mid-July, Dhari, his friend and two other Kuwaitis — one also a teenager — were sent home from Syria.

The Kuwait government said they had been accused of trying to enter Iraq illegally, the first official acknowledgment that citizens of this U.S. ally were taking up arms against American troops in Iraq.

It was something of a shock because this small oil-rich state owes its 1991 liberation from a seven-month Iraqi occupation to a U.S.-led coalition and Kuwait was the launch pad for the war that toppled Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) last year. Just as upsetting was that apparently many of those recruited by Kuwaiti extremists to fight in Iraq are teenagers.

One Kuwaiti security official said Muslim radicals are recruiting teens because they are too young to remember Saddam's 1990 occupation of Kuwait and so have no qualms about fighting their country's liberators in Iraq.

Upon their return to Kuwait, Al-Zahameel and his three comrades were detained by Kuwaiti security officers, and information from their interrogations led to the arrest of 14 extremists suspected of recruiting them or preparing for terrorist attacks here.

The teenager remains under investigation and could face up to two years in juvenile detention if he is convicted of leaving the country to fight Americans, said his lawyer, Abdullah al-Otaibi.

Osama al-Menawer, a lawyer who represents Islamic fundamentalists, said dozens of Kuwaitis seeking to join Iraq's insurgency have entered the country through Syria, Iran and Turkey, avoiding Kuwait's own tightly controlled frontier. Many have been killed in the fighting, which they view as a jihad, or Muslim holy war.

"Nobody is denying what the Americans did" for Kuwait, he said. But, he added, "is everything America does correct?"

Experts on Islamic extremism say radical groups see the presence of U.S. troops on Arab soil as a chance to rally their followers.

For more than a decade this Gulf emirate has been gripped by a struggle between liberals who want more freedoms and a stronger democracy and Muslim fundamentalists who favor full implementation of sharia, Islamic law.

Already the extremists have succeeded in separating sexes in university classrooms, discouraging public entertainment and keeping women from voting or running for office.

Westernized liberals, while conceding the fundamentalists are well-organized, say their rivals are able to have more influence than their numbers would suggest because the majority of Kuwaitis play no active role in politics.

The recruiting of the teenage al-Zahameel has sounded an alarm that the country's youth is in danger of being brainwashed.

The minister of endowments and Islamic affairs, Abdullah al-Matouq, recently said the matter "should not be taken lightly," though he insisted extremists are a small minority in Kuwait. He spoke after the first meeting of a new committee of sociologists, psychologists and educators formed by the Cabinet to confront fundamentalist ideologies.

Islamic Web sites, videotapes and CD-ROMs popular with young Muslims call foreign forces in Iraq "crusaders" and "barbarian thieves" and refer to the Muslims who die fighting them "martyrs."

The videos and CD-ROMs are not publicly sold, but are circulated in Islamist circles. Authorities have not blocked most militant Web sites that are "very popular" among the young, according to al-Otaibi, the lawyer representing al-Zahameel.

The boy's father said he had never thought that his son — described as polite, shy and a good student — would be led astray by his interest in religion.

"When a father sees that his son is religious and keeps out of trouble such as drugs, he is relieved. But my advice (to other fathers) is that they should know who their sons are befriending and what their ideas are, even if they are religious," the elder al-Zahameel said

He said his son, whom he has visited twice in detention, realized he made a mistake.

"He told me, 'I was tricked and they made me see myself in paradise with the maidens.'" Some Muslims believe they will go to paradise to be served by 70 virgins if they die defending God and their honor.

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: flypaperstragety; insurgents; islam; jihad; kuwait; martyrsiniraq; recruits

1 posted on 09/06/2004 1:06:48 PM PDT by Flavius
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To: Flavius

So every madras in every corner of the world (france) is teaching little time bombs...

2 posted on 09/06/2004 1:07:34 PM PDT by Flavius ("... we should reconnoitre assiduosly... " Vegetius)
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To: Flavius

We need to send P. Diddy over their to get out the vote for crazy fundamentalist Moslem teens...that would depress turn out!

3 posted on 09/06/2004 1:09:47 PM PDT by Bluntpoint
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To: Flavius
Every Friday, 17-year-old Dhari al-Zahameel's family would wait for him to come back from the mosque...

That mosque has got to go.

4 posted on 09/06/2004 1:16:03 PM PDT by Restore (As in: "Restore the Constitution!")
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To: Restore

The Al-Sabahs should try democracy first. Young men who are allowed legitimate avenues of political expression tend to see extremisim and violence will not get them what they want.

5 posted on 09/06/2004 1:52:26 PM PDT by sinanju
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To: Flavius

Friends don't let friends go to mosques.

6 posted on 09/06/2004 1:55:30 PM PDT by OK
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To: Flavius

militant Islam is all over the Islamic world, even Kuwait, our "ally."

7 posted on 09/06/2004 7:11:00 PM PDT by yonif ("So perish all Thine enemies, O the Lord" - Judges 5:31)
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