Pakistani Muslims from Britain join Taliban
BRITISH Pakistanis have joined Taliban insurgents fighting the army in southern Afghanistan, according to intelligence briefings given to senior military commanders.
The intelligence about their presence in Helmand province, where 13 British soldiers have died, is believed to have come from Pakistan, where the authorities have recently arrested suspects said to be involved in training Al-Qaeda and Taliban recruits.
A Pakistani official confirmed yesterday there were a number of British Pakistanis known to be fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. “They come here quietly in twos and threes and then disappear. It’s difficult to trace them as they [also] carry Pakistani nationality,” the official said.
A source close to the Taliban claimed two British Pakistanis had gone through Waziristan on their way to fight the British Army six weeks ago. A second Pakistan official said others had since gone into Afghanistan “in an individual capacity”.
A second source close to the Taliban said “no more than 10” of its fighters were known to be British passport holders, but added: “There are a lot of Pakistanis [fighting with the Taliban] and one cannot say how many hold British passports.”
News of British recruits among the Taliban suggests the war in Afghanistan, like that in Iraq, has become a magnet for extremists determined to fight western forces.
It comes as the head of Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist branch told the BBC that British Muslims were also taking part in the fighting in Iraq. Commander Peter Clarke says on the Al-Qaeda: Time to Talk? programme on BBC2 tonight that the number of British Muslims suspected of being involved in supporting terrorism runs into “thousands”.
Asked if there was a “pipeline” to carry young British Muslims into Iraq, Clarke says there are “individuals who, with connections, managed to facilitate people’s travel” to Iraq to take part in the insurgency. He adds: “We know who some of them are.”
British troops estimate they have killed more than 1,200 Taliban insurgents in the past three months. But there seems to be no shortage of recruits. Chechen, Syrian, Egyptian, Pakistani and Yemeni nationals are among the foreigners fighting for the Taliban, who train recruits in the Pakistani city of Quetta.
“The Pakistan border is the problem and we know it is hard to close it all off, but the Taliban seem to have a conveyor belt of new recruits,” one source said.
Young Muslims held in terror camp crackdown
Terror camp fears over school years ago
We're still in denial over homegrown terror threat
Police search 17 homes in London
Five 'terror training school' suspects are new Islam converts