4 years, 10 months ago
The flow of foreign militants to Pakistan worries Western governments, which fear the south Asian country has replaced Iraq as the place to go for aspiring Islamists planning attacks on the West …
The goal today for these young men is to fight U.S. forces in neighbouring Afghanistan or to gain the skills to carry out attacks back home in the Middle East, Africa or the West.
Now, porous borders, corrupt officials and inventive smugglers mean a determined foreigner has little problem simply entering Pakistan, experts say, although reaching a camp in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas can be harder due to U.S. drone attacks and tougher security checks by militant groups.
Counter-terrorism experts also say that Somalia and Yemen are also emerging as destinations for aspiring al Qaeda fighters.
Rob Wainwright, Director of the European Union police agency Europol
“We see a pattern which shows Afghanistan and Pakistan seem to have replaced Iraq as preferred destinations for volunteers wishing to engage in armed conflict … We still see that recruits travel to training camps as part of their radicalisation process.
“Those who get training on the Pakistani-Afghan border are from various backgrounds — for example European converts and persons with Arab, North African and Turkish backgrounds.”
Richard Barrett, coordinator of the U.N.’s al Qaeda-Taliban monitoring team.
“Training over the last couple of years has typically taken place in small compounds which you find throughout the area of northwest Pakistan, rather than in large purpose-built camps. I have also heard of it taking place in apartments or houses in places like Karachi. It is hard to spot and quantify.”
Brian Glyn Williams, Associate Professor of Islamic History at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
“I’ve seen epitaphs of Kazakhs, Turks, Azerbaijanis, and Uzbekistanis on recent jihadi websites (related to the Afghanistan-Pakistan conflict zone).
Raphael Perl, Head of the Action Against Terrorism Unit at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“There’s no question that people are still going and the campaign to recruit people has intensified greatly.
“A small percentage go into active operations immediately. Some are just used for cannon fodder, in that part of Asia. And some of the very capable ones are sent back and told blend into society.”
Noman Benotman, Libyan former anti-Soviet fighter in Afghanistan.
“I think the message many Arabs receive from al Qaeda leaders nowadays is – don’t come here (to Pakistan). We don’t need you here: Go to Yemen’.”
“And we have seen a move to Yemen, mainly by Saudis, to strengthen the al Qaeda base there. It represents a big danger.”
Pakistan is front and center in terms of the training and indoctrination of globalist Jihadi fighters, and the three locations to which they are being sent, if not for their homelands to lay low until used, are Pakistan / Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Finally, there has been an evolution in the training of the jihadists.
Mustafa Alani, Gulf Research Centre
(Whether in Pakistan or Yemen), the major al Qaeda investment is in recruitment, not training. Most action now involves suicide bombers or exploding a car by remote control. This mainly requires influencing the mind of the subject, while most of the physical training can be done in a room. The old-style camps we saw on the publicity videos, where fighters climb over obstacles or go across fires, are mostly in the past. The groups have passed this stage. Now it is about how to evade things like monitoring in an airport. And that is a response to the new technology of counter-terrorism.”
There is good news and bad news. First the good. The drone attacks have been at least moderately successful, and so the recruits have been driven indoors or onto smaller compounds. This means that classical guerrilla warfare conducted with hit and run attacks by small arms fire, small munitions, and so forth, may be training that the recruits have not had.
Now for the bad news. The new recruits may know how to avoid detection in transit, and may in fact have uttered vows of death as they strap suicide bombs to themselves. And for more bad news. The recruits who are sent to the front lines in Pakistan or Afghanistan learn guerrilla warfare with haste. There is no replacement for human intelligence, and we must be pursuing direct knowledge of these operations.