Al-Shabab kidnaps Somali children to fill its ranks. Parents pull kids from school or flee to protect them.

Source: PRI

Members of the al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab surrender to authorities in the north of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, Sept. 24, 2012.

Members of the al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab surrender to authorities in the north of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, Sept. 24, 2012.

Credit: Omar Faruk/Reuters

You can hear the anguish in Maalim Mohamud’s voice when he talks about his son Ismael.

Ismael disappeared on his way home from school in the town of Baidoa in southern Somalia two years ago. He would be 13 years old today.

“I still feel the pain as a parent. I can’t believe that I will never see him again,” said Mohamud, 45, a father of five who now lives in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. “He was the hope of this family and we loved him. We miss him so much.”

Mohamud says he suspects that al-Shabab militants kidnapped Ismael with three other students from Baidoa primary school. The al-Qaeda-linked terror group regularly enters villages and demands that families give up their children. If parents resist, the militants often capture the children and force them to join their ranks.

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