Al Qaeda's New Recruits? Children, U.S. Military Says

New video shows children brandishing weapons, conducting staged raids.

Feb. 6, 2008— -- A video showing children with their faces covered and carrying AK-47s and RPGs proves children are al Qaeda's new weapon in Iraq, the U.S. military says.

The video was recovered during a raid on an al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) safe house in Kahn Bani Sa'ad in the Diyala River Valley.

In the three-and-a-half-minute clip, the children are dressed in black with their faces covered in black ski masks.

They are each armed with a weapon, ranging from a pistol to a grenade, machine gun to a rocket-propelled grenade (RPGs).

The video shows the children being trained during what appears to be staged raids on a vehicle and a house. The U.S. military says that particular training is "for violence against Iraqis and fellow Muslims."

At one point in the video, three recruits stand in front of a black flag reciting a verse from the Koran, roughly translated to "fight them and they will be tortured upon your hands and you will be victorious."

The recruits also chant "a hadith promoting slaughter" and avowing "their affiliation to AQI," according to the U.S. military. But an ABC News review of the clip found the children never mention al Qaeda by name.

The military says they do not know who the children in the video are and believe the film is designed as a propaganda technique to inculcate al Qaeda ideology in young people. ABC News was not able to independently authenticate the video.

Whether affiliated with the terror group or not, child recruits are not new.

Last June, a videotape of an al Qaeda/Taliban training camp graduation ceremony in Pakistan showed some recruits as young as 12 supposedly being sent off on suicide missions, as the Blotter on previously reported.

In September, the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) released a video featuring small children with AK-47 assault rifles as the "new generation" of "mujahedeen."

And this past October, another video surfaced that showed several teenage boys carrying out the decapitation of a Pakistani soldier with crude knives.

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