Iraq Insurgents Using Children, Corpses for Bombs

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 23, 2005 — -- Iraqi militants this week have suffered some of the heaviest single-day death tolls in the two-year insurgency. But ABC News has learned that a State Department document indicates the insurgency's tactics are continuing to evolve. These new techniques include using children to carry explosive devices and booby-trapping corpses with bombs.

In three days, U.S. and Iraqi troops have killed at least 128 militants nationwide, and military officials announced today that 85 insurgents died during a Tuesday raid in central Iraq.

But, according to the document, a disturbing new pattern is developing in the insurgents' use of improvised explosive devices.

According to the report, "vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices continue to be the weapon of choice for terrorists in Iraq who wish to inflict significant casualties and cause widespread damage." There have been 600 such attacks from May 2004 to January 2005, according to the U.S. Army's National Ground Intelligence Center.

In an effort to bypass standard security countermeasures, Iraqi militants are beginning to use service vehicles, such as garbage trucks, to mount attacks, and are stealing Iraqi national military vehicles to conduct kidnappings, the document says.

Iraqi militants are increasingly converting seemingly harmless objects into bombs as well.

At least five IEDs have been placed in mannequins sometimes dressed as U.S. or Iraqi military personnel, the report says. Human corpses -- and even dead animals -- have also been loaded with explosives and detonated when Iraqi or coalition forces attempt to remove the bodies.

Militants have also embedded explosive devices in "watermelons, trees, tree stumps and on guardrails," the report says.

Cover and Disguise

Insurgent forces have also disguised themselves in an effort to gain access to areas frequented by U.S. and allied forces, the report says.

Iraqi extremists reportedly once posed as a soccer team and played matches adjacent to areas where they intended to conduct ambushes against multinational convoys.

Others have acted as "sheep herders to conduct surveillance activity" and "used children to carry IEDs into sensitive areas."

Technological Focus

Insurgents also "routinely seek out new and improved technologies to create more effective IEDs and defeat security equipment," the document says.

Extremists reportedly have ordered a large number of remote-controlled toys to deliver and detonate bombs and have used remote-controlled airplanes for surveillance purposes.

They also use "garage door openers, cellular and satellite telephones, car alarms, and keyless entry systems as remote-controlled detonators for IEDs," the report says.

Even more troubling, the document concludes that the terrorist tactics now used in Iraq may soon become globalized.

Close Encounter

A military convoy accompanied by an ABC News crew encountered an IED today while on Baghdad's airport road. The company commander was informed of what appeared to be an improvised explosive device 175 yards down the road -- spotted by a member of the Iraqi army.

The soldiers immediately stopped traffic in both directions and called for explosives experts.

The Iraqi army was almost immediately suspicious of the object after a car pulled up to the side of the road, someone inside threw out what looked like a fire extinguisher, and the vehicle sped off.

It was, in fact, a fire extinguisher, but it was packed with plastic explosives.

About an hour after the device was found, a small robot was sent in so technicians could view the device remotely. It then dropped an explosives pack on the device so it could be destroyed in a controlled environment.

"Within the last month, we've come across approximately 10 IEDs. We hit three of them and found about seven of them," said Capt. Craig Gibson of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

The soldiers considered today a success -- one less roadside bomb and no injuries.

ABC News' Martha Raddatz and the ABC News Investigative Unit filed this report for "World News Tonight."