Iraqi insurgents turned Amar Mohammed, who has Down syndrome, into suicide bomber (courtesy: Sydney Morning Herald)

This week’s election in Iraq may have been a time of celebration for most citizens, but it turned into horror for one family whose handicapped son was turned into a suicide bomber by insurgents who strapped explosives to his chest to disrupt the voting process.

The victim was Amar Ahmed Mohammed, 19, who had Down syndrome and was said to have had the mind of a 4-year-old boy.

“He was like a baby,” one of Amar’s cousins told the Sydney Morning Herald. “He had nothing to do with the resistance and there was nothing in the house for him to make a bomb. He was Shiite – why bomb his own people? He was mindless, but he was mostly happy, laughing and playing with the children in the street. Now, his father is inconsolable; his mother cries all the time.”

Down syndrome is a congenital condition characterized by moderate to severe mental retardation, slanting eyes, a broad short skull and broad hands with short fingers.

Amar was left at home Sunday when his parents – Ahmed, 42, and Fatima, 40 – went to vote in a suburban part of Baghdad. After they cast their ballots, Amar’s parents joined the extended family for a luncheon celebration at the home of a relative.

During the celebration, a blast was heard, initially thought to be a mortar shell, since a mortar barrage took place in the early hours of voting.

“Everyone was very happy and excited, but news came that a mongoli had been a bomber. Ahmed and Fatima became distressed and they raced home,” Amar’s cousin told the paper. “They got neighbors to search and one of them identified Amar’s head where it lay on the pavement. His body was broken into pieces. I have heard of them using dead people and donkeys and dogs to hide their bombs, but how could they do this to a boy like Amar?”

It’s believed Amar was kidnapped by insurgents who then loaded his body with explosives. He apparently triggered the bomb before reaching the intended target, leaving no others hurt or killed.

The Herald says there are unconfirmed reports of insurgents trying to co-opt at least two others with Down syndrome, suggesting Amar’s death was part of a citywide plan.

Amar’s parents strapped their son’s broken remains atop a taxi yesterday and led a sorrowful procession to the holy city of Najaf for his burial.

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