Al-Qaeda and the Taliban seem to have quietly expanded their recruiting base from South and Central Asia to European nations like Germany, U.K. and France and even to the U.S., with many of the new recruits travelling 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 al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and have not been able to much headway.
Since January, at least 30 Germans have travelled 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, it said, adding in August Pakistani officials had arrested 12 foreigners headed to North Waziristan, including four Swedes.
Belgians and French 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 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 U.S. too, authorities during Congressional hearings and intelligence reports, have been raising apprehensions about the increasing recruitment of U.S. nationals by al-Qaeda and the Taliban and the training being received by them.
This year authorities in the U.S. have arrested several such people 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.
“They can be repacked and set up again fairly easily and quickly,” he told The Washington Post.