Skip to comments.TERRORISM: Where al Qaeda Has Gone To
Posted on 03/11/2004 9:00:22 PM PST by Destro
TERRORISM: Where al Qaeda Has Gone To
March 11, 2004: Al Qaeda is rebuilding its network of training camps by moving in with other Islamic terrorist organizations. The two areas where this is happening most successfully are Southeast Asia (the Philippines and Indonesia) and Pakistan (the Pakistan controlled portion of Kashmir). The Philippines believes they have shut down the terrorist training camp in Mindanao (run with the help of the local Moro Islamic Liberation Front), but the camp may have moved to a remote location in Indonesia (where Islamic conservatives have a lot of political power and will protect Islamic radical organizations.) A more likely location for the kind of training and planning camps that used to exist in Afghanistan can be found in northern Kashmir (controlled by Pakistan, while India controls the larger southern portion). The main Pakistani terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba, supported and worked with al Qaeda before 2001. The Pakistani cannot crack down on these very popular (in Pakistan) groups, whose main occupation is training Pakistanis and Kashmiris to fight in Indian Kashmir. Most of these Islamic radicals are then killed by Indian police and soldiers in Indian Kashmir. The Pakistani government can negotiate with these groups, and there appears to have been an agreement with them that there would be no strong support for al Qaeda or international terrorism (that al Qaeda favored.) But all of these Islamic radical groups are on a mission from God to first unite all Moslems in one world wide Islamic state, and then convert everyone on the planet to the one true religion' Islam. This does complicate negotiations.
Al Qaeda does have support, if not much infrastructure, in other parts of the world. Africa has enthusiasm among Moslem populations, but not much else. The United States has sent Special Forces troops to many African countries to help train troops for anti-terrorist operations, and check out the neighborhood for al Qaeda activity. Lots of al Qaeda propaganda has been found, but little in the way of recruiting. A quite different situation is found to the north, in Algeria. Here, local Islamic radical organizations, reeling from over a decade of war with the government (a military dictatorship that refused to respect an election that would have put Islamic radicals in power), have fled south and are trying to establish camps in the wilderness areas along the border with Mali and Niger. The US Special Forces has been active in Mali and Niger, so if al Qaeda does get anything going here, it will probably be spotted.
Bosnia has become an active training and recruiting area for al Qaeda. Training cannot take place openly, but the local government, despite its dependence on NATO peacekeepers (to keep the local Christians from destroying Bosnia), tolerates the presence of Islamic radicals (who are pro al Qaeda).
Recruiting is still active in Europe and many Moslem countries, but is done discretely, because the police are paying attention now. Fund raising, especially in wealthier Western countries, is more difficult, but still goes on.
Iran is sheltering many al Qaeda members, and has been accused of letting al Qaeda use Iranian terrorist training camps. But al Qaeda is largely run by Sunni Arabs who openly preach against Shia Islam (which is dominant in Iran.) At the top, al Qaeda says it is not anti-Shia. But you don't have to go down the food chain too far to find al Qaeda who are eager to kill Shia Moslems along with other infidels.
Iraq has become a training and testing ground for al Qaeda recruits. Unlike pre-2001 Afghanistan, where the fighting was against anti-Taliban Afghans, in Iraq the enemy is American troops. This makes a big difference because the al Qaeda suffer much higher casualties fighting American and coalition troops. This may be why the coalition has been unable to identify more than a few hundred "foreign" fighters in Iraq. There may have been a few thousand a year ago, but most of them were killed in battles with American troops. These fighters were eager, but not well trained. Those few that survived and fled back to their home countries were probably not very helpful when it came to recruiting. War stories that feature your side getting wiped out tend to discourage new volunteers.
Al Qaeda is not dead. It is scattered and trying to reconstitute. It is having a hard time doing that, and that conflict is a large part of the war on terror.
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