British Jihadists using Africa as secret staging  

Times on Line 

Home-grown British terrorists have been flying to countries in Africa that do not require visas from London before transferring to Pakistan for training in al-Qaeda camps. 

The countries are believed to include Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar, where visas are available on arrival, and South Africa, which requires no visa for a stay of fewer than 90 days. 

There is evidence that al-Qaeda has been looking for loopholes and weaknesses that can be exploited by volunteers in order to evade intelligence services in the West. Africa is fast becoming the continent preferred by British Pakistanis who want to reach Pakistan to enter the terrorist training camps without alerting the authorities.

Countries in Africa that do not require a visa from London are seen as ideal staging-posts for terrorist recruits who do not want to risk flying directly to Pakistan. About 30,000 British Pakistanis fly to Pakistan every year, which poses a substantial challenge for the British and Pakistani authorities in their attempt to identify those who are planning to link up with groups affiliated to al-Qaeda. 

After it was discovered that Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shezhad Tanweer, two of the July 7 suicide bombers, had visited Pakistan in the lead-up to the bombings in London and had received instructions from al-Qaeda figures, a huge effort has been put into improving cooperation with the Pakistani authorities.

All five of the convicted fertiliser-plot bombers also went to Pakistan. A report by Terrorism Monitor, a journal that analyses terrorism, said in March that a South African intelligence official had given a warning that terrorists were using the country as a safe haven. “Evidence suggests that prominent al-Qaeda financiers, facilitators and recruiters continue to operate in the region of southern Africa,” the report said.  

Islam in Africa is, in general, moderate, but the continent is becoming a fertile breeding ground because of the high levels of poverty. Saudi Arabian businessmen are building mosques and madrassas (religious schools) across the continent, providing radical clerics with the opportunity to play a role in recruiting. Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, is helping Britain to try to monitor the movements of people of interest into the country from Britain.

One objective is to trace links between visiting terrorist recruits and known jihadist figures. 

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