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Al Qaeda recruiting cadres from Europe, US: Report

By Lalit K Jha
October 19, 2009 13:22 IST
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The Taliban and the Al Qaeda seem to have quietly expanded their recruiting base from South and Central Asia to European nations like Germany, United Kingdom and France and even to the United States, with many of the new recruits traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan for terror training.

The Washington Post, in a major article on Monday, said the new target countries are now struggling to stop their nationals from being recruited by the Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and have not been able to make much headway.

Since January, at least 30 Germans have traveled to Pakistan for terror training, the daily said, quoting German intelligence sources. In an indication of the dangerous trend, a group called German Taliban has also surfaced in Germany, the paper said.

"Last week, German officials disclosed that a 10-member cell from Hamburg had left for Pakistan earlier this year. The cell is allegedly led by a German of Syrian descent but also includes ethnic Turks, German converts to Islam and one member with Afghan roots," it said.

Other European countries are also struggling to keep their citizens from going to Pakistan for paramilitary training, the Post said, adding that in August, Pakistani officials had arrested 12 foreigners headed to North Waziristan, including four Swedes.

Belgians and French nationals too are believed to have received training from terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Post said. In a secret report, the Dutch intelligence agency recently said the Al Qaeda's ability to carry out attacks has generally improved in recent years largely because it has successfully bolstered alliances with other terrorist groups.

"With the jihadist agenda of those allies becoming more international, at least at the propaganda level, the threat to the West and its interests has intensified," it said.

In the US too, during Congressional hearings of intelligence reports, authorities have been raising apprehensions about the increasing recruitment of US nationals by the Al Qaeda and the Taliban and the training being received by them.

This year, authorities have arrested several such people across the US, from Minneapolis to New York.

"We're talking about much smaller, much more mobile camps that don't train by the hundreds, but by the handful," Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University, was quoted as saying.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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