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Al-Qaida recruiting children in Yemen

Supporters of Yemen's President Ali Abduallah Saleh hold his picture during a rally in his support in Sanaa, Yemen, September 30, 2011. A Yemeni security official said U.S.-born Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in an airstrike while traveling between Marib and al-Jawf provinces, areas known to have an al-Qaida presence. UPI/Abdulrahman Abdallah
Supporters of Yemen's President Ali Abduallah Saleh hold his picture during a rally in his support in Sanaa, Yemen, September 30, 2011. A Yemeni security official said U.S.-born Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in an airstrike while traveling between Marib and al-Jawf provinces, areas known to have an al-Qaida presence. UPI/Abdulrahman Abdallah | License Photo

SANAA, Yemen, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Al-Qaida's offshoot in Yemen is recruiting children for suicide missions and other operations, the head of a non-governmental child protection agency said.

Ahmed al-Qurashi, director of Yemen's al-Seyaj organization, told the Egyptian news organization Bikyamasr.com al-Qaida is brainwashing children to do its bidding with complete disregard for the children's well-being.

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"No one can provide a specific number for al-Qaida's recruits among children or adults because of the great danger involved, but we are certain that the percentage of child soldiers under the age of 18 is not less than 40 percent of the overall number of recruits," al-Qurashi said Tuesday.

He said his organization has compiled data proving the al-Qaida group operating in Yemen's Abyan province is extensively recruiting young boys under the age of 18.

He said the terrorists are using children in their suicide attacks, using remote-controlled detonators to explode the devices they carry.

Al-Seyaj was founded in 2008 to protect, document and expose crimes and violence against children in Yemen.

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