November 2003 News

Al-Qaeda using J&K as recruiting ground: UK

4 November 2003
The Hindustan Times
V Mohan Narayan (Press Trust of India)

Srinagar: Al-Qaeda terrorists, who have been on the run since the US crackdown in Afghanistan, are re-grouping in Pakistan and using Kashmir as a recruiting ground, according to intelligence reports received in London by the British government.British officials said they have also reasons to believe that at least 1,000 Al-Qaeda elements and its sympathisers have already moved into Iraq and helping out supporters of ousted President Saddam Hussein in fighting the US-led forces.With the coalition forces out on their lookout, Al-Qaeda is being pushed to a corner when it is left with no option but to be selective in its attacks, a senior British government official dealing with counter-terrorism said.'Kashmir has become another terrific recruiting force for Al-Qaeda,' the official said. 'Some have been re-located from Afghanistan to that part of the world,' he told a group of visiting Indian journalists.In Iraq, the official said, the Al-Qaeda terrorists were being joined by 'foreign jihadis'. 'Though still indigenously driven, insurgency in Iraq is gaining momentum,' the official warned adding mainly it was being pursued by Saddam loyalists.Though the Pakistani regime under President Pervez Musharraf is taking some steps to round up such elements, many have succeeded in re-grouping in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, he said.Asked when the US and British forces hoped to leave Iraq, he said 'exit of the troops within a year seems unlikely'.Britain supports the US view that security has to be reasonably good in the war-ravaged country before handing over administrative reins to the new government in Baghdad.Britain says it disapproves of UN 'reluctance' to get involved in Iraq even as India and several other countries have sought a greater role for the world body in managing Baghdad's affairs.


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