Afghanistan's 'pristine jihad' draws in outsiders trained in Pakistan

Afghani warlord insurgents are being bolstered by men from Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Turkey and Pakistan
 Afghani warlord insurgents are being bolstered by men from Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Turkey and Pakistan

Afghanistan is replacing Iraq as the destination of choice for international jihadists, Western intelligence agencies claim. Analysts have monitored a surge in online recruitment of “lions of Islam” to join the war in Afghanistan through jihadist websites, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Chechnya and Turkey, in the past year.

That is now being matched by evidence of an increase in foreign fighters entering Afghanistan, mostly from training bases established in the lawless Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) of Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.

One Kabul-based Western diplomat, who did not want to be named, said: “There is a change with an increase in attacks in the east [along the Pakistan border] and more chatter of foreign voices is being detected.”

Intelligence officials say that the number of al-Qaeda-linked foreign fighters involved remains small within the overall context of the Taleban insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, on a trip to Kabul last week Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters: “There are clearly more foreign fighters in the Fata than have been there in the past. What that really speaks to is that's a safe haven and it's got to be eliminated for all insurgents, not just al-Qaeda.”

Dr Williams said: “The Anbar Awakening really broke the hearts of a lot of al-Qaeda followers who saw the jihad in Iraq in black-and-white terms. Sunni Arab al-Qaeda were pushed out by fellow Sunni Arabs.

“Iraq is seen as a defeat. The image of Afghanistan is seen as a more pristine jihad.”

The Times has learnt from several insurgency sources that Abu Yusuf Saleh al-Yemeni, an emissary for al-Qaeda, met the leadership of Hizb-e-Islami, the Afghan insurgent group, in Nuristan province on the eastern border in autumn 2007. The two sides agreed to work together. Al-Yemeni now leads a band of al-Qaeda fighters alongside Hizb-e-Islami fighters, as well as Taleban and Pakistani militants from bases in Nuristan.

Hekmatullah Sial, a political analyst based in eastern Afghanistan, told The Times: “The local people in the eastern part of Nuristan say that more than 400 fighters, both local and foreign, are moving freely in the area. There are reports that Chechens, Arabs and Pakistanis are among them.

“It is reported that Lashkar-e-Toiba plays the leading role there,” he added, in reference to a Pakistani militant group originally backed by the country's military for operations in Kashmir. More recently Lashkar fighters have been linked to al-Qaeda.

The greater potency of the insurgent groups operating in the area was demonstrated in the attack that nearly overran a remote US combat outpost at Wanat in Nuristan on July 13. US officers described the tactics of the insurgents involved as “first-rate”.

Some of the Arabs arriving in Afghanistan are, in the words of one Western diplomat, “Saudi kids on their gap years”. Others, such as Uzbek members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which has been fighting for more than a decade alongside al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are hardened fighters.

Zabiullah Mujahed, a spokesman for the Taleban, told The Times: “Yes, there are foreign fighters, the 'Narewal Mujahidin' [global jihadis]. So far it is about 5 per cent of the total.”

2014 united copts .org
Copyright © 2023 United Copts. All Rights Reserved.
Website Maintenance by: