Embedded in this must-read article at Spiegel on German jihadis is a section on the al Qaeda and affiliated groups’ camps that operate in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas despite the US Predator air campaign and special operations raids. From Spiegel:
Much has changed in the Islamist terrorist scene in Germany in the almost 10 years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but one constant has remained. Like the 9/11 attackers, the overwhelming majority of militant jihadists in Germany have attended training camps run by al-Qaida or affiliated groups.
In these camps, would-be terrorists receive instruction on terrorism techniques and are given orders to be carried out in Europe. The camps are still in the Hindu Kush region that straddles Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, but now they are somewhat farther to the south than before, in the border area between the two countries. The Western invasion of Afghanistan did not change that. Neither have countless military offensives or US drone attacks.
Osama bin Laden is dead, as are many of his closest associates. But the recruitment of new blood is still going strong. The terror network has been continually transforming itself, as new terrorists have come up through the ranks, running individual camps and smaller organizations, before disappearing from view again.
Al-Qaida today resembles an army whose battalions were torn apart after the invasion of Afghanistan and whose surviving troop units are now operating more or less autonomously. But there are still many soldiers willing to fight, including some from Germany. “So many people arrive every month that there are problems finding places for them to stay,” says Rami Makanesi, a suspected al-Qaida member from Hamburg who also attended a training camp in the Hindu Kush region.
Paradoxically, the new structure, with its many splinter groups, makes it easier for Islamist fanatics to latch onto one of the organizations. “In the last few years, the threat level in Germany from al-Qaida has actually increased,” says German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, a member of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU).
Makanesi’s claim that “so many people arrive every month that there are problems finding places for them to stay” shouldn’t be dismissed. In fact, Makanesi’s statement matches the observations made by David Coleman Headley, the US jihadi indicted for plotting attacks in Denmark. The following comments by Headley are taken from the US federal indictment of Headley [see Threat Matrix report, US jihadi: North Waziristan ‘bustling’ with ‘Foreign Mujahideen’ from October 2009]. In the excerpt below, Headley is rebutting survey results that claimed the locals in North Waziristan didn’t support the jihadis.
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]
There are so many German-speaking terrorists in the area that in Waziristan, a village of so-called “German Taliban” was established, according to propaganda released by the Islamic Jihad Group, an offshoot of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Both the IMU and the IJU have large numbers of Germans and Europeans in their ranks. IMU camps have sprung up in the Afghan north, in Samangan, Balkh, and Sar-i-Pul provinces. Also the term “European Taliban” has begun to be used in the region.
We’ve said this multiple times: Raids and Predator strikes are good tools for disrupting the terror networks in the Afghan-Pakistan region, but they are no substitute for taking and holding ground.
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