Death's Pied Piper

A veteran of the Iran/Iraq war warned me that what the Prophet said and did was a much more powerful incentive for young people to go to their death than anything Allah revealed in his Koran.

The example of Muhammad, he explained, was not lost on boys as young as 12 years old, perhaps even younger, who were used, in a tactic sanctioned by Khomeini, to clear a path through a minefield or in suicidal attacks to test Iraqi defenses (experience soldiers were too valuable to risk in such enterprises).

Before the actual advance across a minefield or terrain to be shredded by enemy artillery, the children were given a small plastic key to hang around their necks, and told this was the key to Firdaus.

The signal to run to their death was a man in the distance on a black horse dressed in the black garb copied by Islamic State brandishing a sword and pointing towards the Iraqi positions. The children were told this was the Prophet Muhammad. Their hero would be there to welcome them into Paradise should they be martyred.

Bernard Payeur