Af-Pak said to attract fewer foreign fighters for jihad

Published: February 9, 2012
Afghan-Pakistan jihad is attracting fewer foreign fighters following Bin Laden's death, US drones and lack of funds.

Afghan-Pakistan jihad is attracting fewer foreign fighters following Bin Laden's death, US drones and lack of funds.

PARIS: The Afghan-Pakistan jihad is attracting fewer foreign fighters following the death of Osama bin Laden, the growing threat posed by US drones, and lack of funds, Western security officials say.

While no precise figure is available, it would appear that the number of would-be jihadists from abroad has been drying up, according to one security official who declined to be named.

However, more Pakistanis are willing to take up the fight and make up the numbers, he also warned.

“Over the past six months, young Frenchmen there have nearly all left Pakistan. There were 20 to 30 of them, who had either converted (to Islam) or had links to the Maghreb; today there are hardly any left,” he said.

“Other European countries whose nationals used to go to Pakistan to join the jihad have drawn the same conclusion – a drastic reduction over recent months,” he added.

The “Arab Spring” revolts also acted as a magnet, with a number of jihadists moving to Libya to join the fight to remove Muammar Qaddafi from power, he said.

“Fighting in Afghanistan is also less attractive because of the idea that the Afghan taliban want to concentrate more on home fighting and that world jihad is less and less their cup of tea,” he added.

For Frank Cilluffo, who co-authored “Foreign Fighters” for the Homeland Security Policy Institute, “first and foremost, military actions, including the use of drones, has made the environment less hospitable to foreign fighters traveling to the region, by disrupting al Qaeda’s (and associated entities’) training camps and pipelines.”

Direct and indirect accounts by jihadists also speak of disarray within al Qaeda in northwestern Pakistan where activists avoid coming together for fear of being attacked and whose weapons training now takes place indoors because of aerial and satellite surveillance.

In a report, entitled “Militant Pipeline” describing the links between the northwestern Pakistani frontier and the West, researcher Paul Cruickshank quotes one Ustadh Ahmad Faruq, described as a Pakistan-based al Qaeda spokesman who recently acknowledged his network’s difficulties.

“The freedom we enjoyed in a number of regions has been lost. We are losing people and lack resources. Our land is being squeezed and drones fly over us,” he reportedly said in an audio cassette.

“It’s difficult to have reliable figures,” on the number of foreign fighters, according to Cruickshank, who is a fellow at New York University’s Center on Law and Security.

“I think the drone strikes have been a major issue for the militants, the death of bin Laden is going to be a very big challenge as well. He was so important for a lot of these militants – he was the al Qaeda brand.

“By going over there they were joining his cause. The fact that he has been removed from the scene is likely to be a great recruiting challenge for al Qaeda,” he said.

“But the conflict is still going on in Afghanistan and in the radical circles it is still viewed as a very legitimate jihad. So it’s likely that the number of volunteers is going to be diminished, but as long as there are US soldiers to fight, I don’t think it’s going to dry up entirely,” he added.

Hafiz Hanif, a 17-year-old Afghan who trained in northwest Pakistan, recently told Newsweek magazine the number of foreign fighters there was dwindling.

“When new people came they brought new blood, enthusiasm and money. All that has been lost. Now leaders seem to spend all their time moving from one place to another for their safety,” he said.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • American Pakistani
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:52AM

    Finally some good news.


  • Nand
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:01AM

    ‘However, more Pakistanis are willing to take up the fight and make up the numbers’.
    “first and foremost, military actions, including the use of drones, has made the environment less hospitable to foreign fighters traveling to the region, by disrupting al Qaeda’s (and associated entities’) training camps and pipelines.”
    This is the summary of the above report.


  • Viper
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:12AM

    And you still hear the apologists say that ONLY innocents are being targeted by the drones. There has been no better weapon developed than drones to tackle terrorists.


  • marty
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:14AM

    The greatest achievement of President Obama has been these Drone wars.It’s good to see the terrorist getting terrorised.Only if his predecessor(who I think was a bit retarded) had followed this policy instead of chasing cuckoo’s in Iraq,this war would have been over long ago.


  • somy
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:15AM

    lack of funds?- sounds interesting. this is because the US stopped the payment to pakistan military to fight terror, they do not have enough funds to support terror. haha, US is a fool, instead of targetting bank accounts of terrorist, if they had stopped the funds to pakistan to fight terror, the terror may had been wiped out in last 10 years.


  • Humour Boy
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:10AM

    Foreign fighters are reluctant to come to Pakistand due to ” security concenrs” !!!


  • Goraya Sb
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:14AM

    US is already planning to leave, ending combat role a year earlier, they may potray the situation in afghanistan as near to normal.


  • IZ
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:22AM

    Good riddance. Pakistan should now work to track down the people who were funding these bozos from their sanctuaries in the gulf countries and eliminate them.


  • Jpy
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:46AM

    Long live drones


  • Raj - USA
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:50AM

    I agree with you totally. War on Iraq was a blunder. In fact Saddam, with brutal use of force, was able to control terrorists more effectively. However the Kurds suffered during his rule.


  • Raj - USA
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:51AM

    Like your comments. An interesting connection you have seen.


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:26PM

    Don’t worry. Our Madrassas, led by Hafiz Saeed, will more than make up in terms of manpower and they will also go on a donation drive to offset funds shortages.


  • Zainab Ali
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:44PM

    Thanks God it’s finally happening. This trend is also representative of the fact that a number of these fighters are now getting back into the mainstream. This trend, if continues will also act as a realization for these people that the so called “Jihad” is nothing but a fallacy. The real Jihad is their hard work that can bring prosperity to their land, which is certainly needed. Also, there is a dire need to keep a keen eye on the sale and purchase of materials that can be used for the manufacturing of IEDs, as most recently these explosives have proved to be more destructive than ever.


  • faraz
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:50PM

    Why cant we adopt strict visa policy; every fanatic from all over the world ends up in our country


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 12:53PM

    Do not associate Taliban with Al Qaeda, Taliban never supported Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, after 9/11 taliban even agreed to handover Osama but they asked for evidence and US couldn’t provide it(it doesn’t make any sense if someone agrees to deliver u something without having the evidence), actually they didn’t wanted Osama’s trail (which was proved later on Abottabad Operation because the intention was not to arrest him), So Taliban still have the strong support inside the Afghanistan that’s why US official have repeatedly indicated that Taliban could take over Kabul if US pulled out its forces, because Taliban still have the support of masses, The truth is US fought a fake war for economic and strategic reasons and lost it badly, Now the pressure is mounting on pentagon and Obama’s administration to withdraw military so they want to win the war over media,

    And the most strange thing is; US defeated USSR in Afghanistan and Now US is in Afghanistan for the same purpose as Russians had, why US do not put blame on Russia for supporting Afghan Taliban’s why Pakistan ? Why Don’t they think the Russia is taking revenge ?


  • Indian
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:50PM

    @Colonel: Your analysis is not correct. You have got unconscious desire to justify everything. Although I consider USA the biggest terrorists in the world but it does not mean that your army is a holy Recommend

  • Feb 9, 2012 - 2:01PM

    well said @Colonel


  • Sayyed Mehdi
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:55PM


    You’re right when you say that the Taliban should not be confused with Al-Qaeda. But evidence also suggests that one faction of the Taliban (led by Mullah Omar) was indeed supportive of Al-Qaeda. That is what got them screwed.

    Mullah Zaeef’s My Life with the Taliban makes an interesting read. Zaeef completely supports Mullah Omar (naivette), but the Mullah’s shady character is apparent throughout the book.


  • Reddy
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:33PM

    @Russia for supporting Afghan Taliban’s why Pakistan ?
    They would have blamed Russia if NWFP is in Russia.Moreover,i think taking blame is better than giving that part of pakistan to Russia.


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 4:02PM

    @Sayyed Mehdi:
    can u provide me the online link of that book??Recommend

  • Feb 9, 2012 - 4:24PM

    have u ever seen the world map ??? such a silly comment Russia possesses control/influence over states bordering Afghanistan, and moreover if you had to support Taliban border limits are not a problem, UAE and other Arab countries are also supporting Taliban so do these arab states have direct route or border with Afghanistan???


  • Pakistan News
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:29PM

    So what do u think America really needed a border to support Libyan fighter’s and for providing them arms? do CIA and other agencies needs neighboring borders to support any particular group in any country??? get off ur couch , sitting and sipping coffee is very nice but before commenting on such important matters u really need to get some knowledge


  • Cautious
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:55PM

    When new people came they brought new
    blood, enthusiasm and money. All that
    has been lost. Now leaders seem to
    spend all their time moving from one
    place to another for their safety,

    Not so glamorous when your cold, hungry, constantly on the move and always listening for the ever present drones.


  • David Salmon
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:51PM

    @Goraya Sb:
    The US is not leaving combat a year early. In keeping with previous plan, the Afghan Army will increase to maximum size of about 350,000 this year, it will train and fight alongside US combat units this year, with US units taking the lead. Next year, the Afghan Army is expected to take the lead, with the US units alongside them engaged in training, support, and — as needed — combat. The idea is to have the Afghan Army able to suppress the Taliban without American combat support by 2014. Panetta’s comment about the shift in 2013 from combat lead to combat support was misconstrued by mediapersons who were ignorant of the plan.


  • David Salmon
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:56PM

    The Iraq diversion caused the Afghanistan war to be put on hold, but I wonder if the Arab Spring would have occurred but for the example of democratic elections in Iraq?


  • Feb 10, 2012 - 1:55AM

    This news signifies that our efforts are paying off. Terrorism has been a major force inhibiting progress in the region. Innocent people from Afghanistan and Pakistan have been suffering because of it. This war was not like any other war… It was against a particular group that was all bent on destroying the peace of this planet. Al Qaeda terrorists from all over the world had gathered in Afghanistan and with the blessing of the then-rulers to carry out their agenda of death and destruction. Today the terrorist organization is in disarray, much of their leadership either killed or captured and the rest on the run. The success against them came with our close cooperation with Pakistan. We need to continue to work together to eliminate the rest of the terrorist organizations, so the people of the region are free from the fear of these ruthless terrorists who are depriving the region of a better and brighter future.

    Maj David Nevers
    DET-United States Central Command


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