Confirming the worst fears of the U.S. and the rest of the world, the teenaged would-be suicide bomber who was nabbed by the police before he could detonate himself along with his associates at the Sufi shrine of Sakhi Sarwar in south Punjab last Sunday has revealed that over 300 people are being trained in North Waziristan along the Afghanistan border to become suicide bombers.
What is worse is the age of many of these suicide bombers. A number of those who have exploded themselves in various parts of the country in the first quarter of this year were teenagers; this young lad was all of 14 years. Apologetic about his act, Umar Fidai said he and his associates - who were also teenagers - were told that they were being taken to Afghanistan. “I am ashamed of my act. We killed innocent people,” he was reported as stating.
According to Umar, the training camps were located in Mir Ali and the trainees included Uzbeks, Tajiks and Arabs besides some people from Punjab. The training includes indoctrination and besides bombing techniques. While targeting Sufi shrines, the suicide bombers are specifically told to detonate themselves near the place where “people worship the dead”.
The mystical Sufi tradition of the country's dominant Barelvi school of Islam has been coming under repeated attack in recent months as the Al Qaeda and the Taliban - who adhere to a more austere view of the religion - regard the other streams of Islam as deviant. Also, the attacks on more public spaces like shrines are seen as a bid by the terrorists to work around the tight security that has been put in place around government establishments and high-profile targets.