What’s my bid? One suicide bomber (explosives sold separately)

In these financially tough times, US$400,000 can go a long way. You could buy a house, a luxury sports car, even Ivy League tuition. Or, if you’re a fanatic in Saudi Arabia, you can buy a suicide bomber.

This video, posted on Live Leak, shows exactly that: an auction, held by a father selling his own son. In a hotel conference room in Jeddah, people mingle and kids play before the gruesome bidding begins. The father, named only as Abu-Saleh, grows more and more excited as the bids roll in.

Eventually, he got $400,000 for his son Khaled’s future sacrifice which, according to the website, will take place somewhere in Syria.

Of course, the video MAY be a hoax. But even if that’s the case, the idea of auctioning off your child – or buying yourself a suicide bomber, for that matter – is beyond macabre.

Sadly, this is not the first time the world has heard of such auctions. In 2008, the then-Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik revealed that similar “buy your own bomber” sales were happening in his country – and unlike in oil-rich Saudi Arabia, the going rate for a life in Pakistan was as low as US$5,000.

More recently, a similar statement was made by Afghan intelligence officials. There, suicide bombers were sold from one terrorist group to another, for nearly $100,000.

The business of suicide bombers seems to be prospering. And it certainly alters the world’s perspective on how terrorist groups recruit their members. Ideology, psychological manipulation and fanaticism are just a part of it.

Poverty in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan forces people to become involved with extremist organizations. Militants will pay the bombers’ families after the attack, and for many, it is the only way to provide for their loved ones.