PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN — Afghanistan has been drawing a fresh influx of
jihadi fighters from Turkey, Central Asia, Chechnya and the Middle
East, one more sign that al-Qaeda is regrouping on what is fast
becoming the most active front of the war on terrorist groups.
More foreigners are infiltrating Afghanistan because of a recruitment
drive by al-Qaeda as well as a burgeoning insurgency that has made
movement easier across the border from Pakistan, U.S. officials,
militants and experts say. For the past two months, Afghanistan has
overtaken Iraq in deaths of U.S. and allied troops, and nine American
soldiers were killed at a remote base in Kunar province Sunday in the
deadliest attack in years.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff,
warned during a visit to Kabul this month about an increase in foreign
fighters crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan, where a new
government is trying to negotiate with militants.
Two U.S. officials said that the United States is closely monitoring
the flow of foreign fighters into both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Afghan National Army soldiers stand around the dead bodies of Taliban
militants after they were killed in a failed ambush on Afghan forces
in Qara Bagh district of Ghazni province on Tuesday.
Jihadist websites from Chechnya to Turkey to the Arab world featured
recruitment ads as early as 2007 calling on the “lions of Islam” to
fight in Afghanistan, said Brian Glyn Williams, associate professor of
Islamic history at the University of Massachusetts. Dr. Williams has
tracked the movement of jihadis for the U.S. military’s Combating
Terrorism Center at West Point.
Local Afghans in the border regions are increasingly concerned about
the return of the Araban or Ikhwanis, as Arab fighters are known in
the Pashtun language, Dr. Williams wrote in a CTC paper. He said there
were rumours of hardened Arab fighters from Iraq training Afghan
Pashtuns in the previously taboo tactic of suicide bombing.
Turkey also appears to have emerged as a source of recruits. Dr.
Williams estimated that as many as 100 Turks had made their way to
Pakistan to join the fight in Afghanistan.
“The story of Turkish involvement in transnational jihadism is one of
the best kept stories of the war on terror,” said Dr. Williams, who
noted that al-Qaeda videos posted on YouTube mention Turks engaging in
the insurgency. “The local Afghans whom I talked to claim that the
Turks and other foreigners are more prone to suicidal assaults than
the local Taliban.”
Dozens of Turkish Islamic militants have trained in al-Qaeda camps in
Afghanistan and taken part in attacks there, said Emin Demirel, an
anti-terrorism expert in Turkey. He said images of attacks on mosques
or Muslim villages provide propaganda for recruiting young Turkish
“Nowadays, they are effectively using the Internet to communicate with
fellow militants, and police have difficulty in keeping tabs on
several of the jihadist sites,” said Mr. Demirel, author of several
books on Turkish Islamic militant groups. “Turkish courts sometimes
locally block access to one particular site, but it is still accessed
outside Turkey. Those websites eulogize fallen fighters as martyrs in
order to recruit among radical Muslim youths.”
One example was Cuneyt Ciftci, the German-born son of Turkish
immigrants, who took the Arabic nom de guerre of Saad Abu Furqan. In a
video obtained last March by The Associated Press, the 28-year-old was
shown giving a final hug goodbye to some friends before blowing
himself up outside a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan.
A Turkish news website, Uslanmam, said an Uzbek militant group called
Islamic Jihad Union claimed responsibility and eulogized Ciftci as
“the brave Turk who has left his luxury life in Germany and came here
to go to paradise.”
Just a couple of weeks later, newspapers in Pakistan reported that
four Turkish nationals with suspected links to al-Qaeda had been
arrested by authorities on a bus. They were found with explosives,
ammunition and jihadi sites on their laptop computers.
Al-Qaeda’s recruitment drive stems from a slow and steady resurgence
that started in 2002, according to Taliban sources.
“They are awake,” said Qari Mohammed Yusuf, who Afghan authorities
confirm is a senior Taliban. “They have people going by different
names to other countries. They are coming and going easily. In the
last year, they have been organizing more day by day.”
Al-Qaeda has financed the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan,
Mr. Yusuf said. In the chaos created by the Taliban groups, al-Qaeda
has been able to steadily recruit, re-establish its public relations
wing, plot new attacks and re-establish areas of operation on both
sides of the border.
Naseer Ahmed al-Bahri, who was Mr. bin Laden’s bodyguard until 2000,
said in Yemen last year that al-Qaeda has field commanders in
countries from Indonesia to Senegal.
BASELESS ALLEGATION for the sake of reporting only. NO CONCRETE EVIDENCE can be shared and it is merely a hearsay and rumours only – shahrul peshawar