When Liberian Child Soldiers Grow Up A generation of girls fought in Liberia’s brutal wars. What they tell their own children about the past will inform the country’s future. Many Liberians are former child soldiers. More than 38,000 children are estimated to have taken part in the war as fighters, porters, ammunition carriers, cooks, and sex slaves. The roots of child slave soldiers this go back hundreds of year when Janissaries comprised infantry units that formed the Ottoman sultan’s elir forces and bodyguard. The force originated in the 14th century; it was abolished not earlier than 1826. Janissary units comprised war captives and slavesan a sort of brutal taxation in human form called devshirmeh: the Sultan’s men conscripted a number of non-Muslim, usually Christian, boys – at first at random, later, by strict selection – to be trained. Initially they favoured Greeks, Albanians about one in five boys of ages seven to fourteen. For all practical purposes, Janissaries belonged to the Sultan, carrying the title “kapikulu”(Gate Keeper) indicating their collective bond with the Sultan. Janissaries were taught to consider the corps as their home and family, and the Sultan as their de facto father. I was reminded on this, when read the Newsweek article. Warlords in Liberia did not only rename children, they destroyed every earlier relationship which defined the children. Children were sent to their own villages and people to kill, loot and destroy. Recent events have linked child soldiering to insurgency and terrorism, suggesting that this issue is also developing a security dimension. Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas have recruited children as young as 13 to be suicide bombers Likewise, when Muslim groups began to use child suicide bombers, they were not actually breaking any rulle in child soldier-fuelled conflicts, such as those in Northern Uganda and Liberia. n Africa, it estimated that half the ranks of progovernment paramilitaries and rebel soldiers are recruited, or abducted, child soldiers, of which approximately half of which are girls, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRC).