The United States continues to play down the role of Pakistani jihadis in Iraq
Pakistan jihadis have been caught fighting in Iraq as early as April this year. These jihadi ‘infiltrators’ are doing exactly what they did in Kashmir in the 1990s — use their experience and viciousness to take over the jihad from locals and change the nature of the conflict.
In Baghdad yesterday, a tribal elder from Fallujah said most of the city’s residents opposed the presence of foreign fighters, but complained that the Allawi government had not allowed the locals enough time to drive the foreigners out.
“We needed more time and weapons to take out all these mujahideen,” Sheik Ali Abdullah told The Washington Times by telephone. He said the foreign fighters â€” mainly Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian and Pakistani â€” had been able to achieve a degree of control through payments to unemployed citizens. [Washington Times]
It is remarkable, for example, that the Pakistani Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Tayba appears to be shifting its sights away from its longtime focus on Kashmir and toward Iraq. Probably the largest militant group in Pakistan, it has used its online Urdu publication to call for sending holy warriors to Iraq to take revenge for the torture at Abu Ghraib prison as well as for what it calls the “rapes of Iraqi Muslim women.” “The Americans are dishonoring our mothers and sisters,” reads a notice on its site. “Therefore, jihad against America has now become mandatory.”
The organization’s postings speak of an “army” of 8,000 fighters from different countries bound for Iraq. While that number is undoubtedly exaggerated, the statement is not pure propaganda: members of the group have already been captured in Iraq. [NYT/Free Republic via Pakistan Facts]
Unlike local insurgents, foreign jihadis do not have property and families in the immediate vicinity — making them less sensitive to collateral damage. And unlike local insurgents, Pakistani jihadis are plugged in to the international terrorist supply chains.
Four foreign citizens including a Pakistani arrested in Ukraine earlier this year on suspicion of illegal weapons trade intended to procure sophisticated weaponry worth more than $800 million for an unspecified force fighting in Iraq, a news agency reported on Monday.
Serhiy Rudenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian prosecutor generalâ€™s office said that the four foreign citizens â€” from Greece, Iraq and Pakistan â€” were trying to purchase aircraft and surface-to-air missiles for an Iraqi customer, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. [DT]
The United States has been reluctant to play up the role of Pakistani jihadis in order not to compromise Musharraf’s position. But it is important to realise that the Pakistani government still allows these jihadi outfits to exist, under different names, even as it continues to hide its patronage.
Musharraf’s policy of supporting the United States against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan while supporting the jihadis against India in Kashmir has run its course. The new Bush administration can do itself a favour if it insists that Musharraf irrevocably and uniformly sever all Pakistan’s links with terrorists.