The is plenty of interesting information available on the five Americans detained in Pakistan who were trying to link up with al Qaeda and allied terror groups within Pakistan. The radicalization process and recruitment via the Internet by “Saifullah,” a known jihadist, will certainly raise some eyebrows. Ultimately, it seems all roads to jihad pass through Pakistan, and more specifically, Waziristan. As The New York Times reported, the five were planning to head to Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan:
The men appeared to have come to the attention of “Saifullah” – an Islamic militant with links to Al Qaeda – through their YouTube activities, the police chief said. Saifullah traced their e mail addresses through YouTube, Chief Anwar said.
After establishing the Internet connection with the militant, the men planned their journey to Pakistan and into the tough terrain of North Waziristan, where they intended to train around the border town of Miram Shah, a headquarters of the Afghan Taliban fighting against the American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the police said.
The men were carrying laptops and maps of Miram Shah, as well as Kohat and Hangu, two major towns in the North-West Frontier Province that serve as the gateway to the tribal areas and North Waziristan, the police said.
Sargodha is about a seven-hour drive from Miram Shah over a route that is increasingly well traveled by Pakistani militants from Punjab who head to the Waziristans for training in explosives and weapons conducted by the Taliban and Qaeda operatives. In the last six months, 24 militants have been arrested in Sargodha, all of them with ties to the Taliban and Waziristan, the police said recently.
It was not clear, according to the police here, whether the men had been recruited to a specific militant or terrorist organization.
Miramshah is the home of the Haqqani Network, the Taliban group closest to al Qaeda. The Haqqanis and the Taliban under the command of Hafiz Gul Bahadar sponsor al Qaeda and Pakistani jihadi camps in the region. Miramshah has been a main focus of the covert US air campaign. Jihadis are known to flock to Miramshah for training and to receive shelter.
David Coleman Headley, the US jihadi indicted for plotting attacks in Denmark as well as for involvement in the Mumbai attack, spent time in al Qaeda camps in North Waziristan. Here is
his response to a think tank survey that said a significant number of people in Pakistan’s northwest approved of the Predator attacks against al Qaeda (from the indictment):
This “survey” is the biggest crock of S … I was there on some business recently and I assure you this dude is not even close .. I even doubt the ability of the surveyors to conduct this “research” in Miranshah or Ramzak. I even challenge [the identified individual who posted the survey online] to just walk around the bazaar in Miranshah. This bazaar is bustling with Chechens, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, Bosnians, some from EU countries and of course our Arab brothers. According to MY survey the foreign population is a little less than a third of the total. Any Waziri or Mehsud I spoke to seemed grateful to God for the privilege of being able to host the “Foreign Mujahideen.” [emphasis in the original]
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