Are terrorist groups sending young men to med school so that they can serve as medics for the mujahedin? From the Sydney Morning Herald, with thanks to Nicolei:
Izhar ul-Haque, the medical student arrested in Sydney last week, may have been studying to become part of a medical unit to support terrorist fighters in the field, according to a terrorism expert in Pakistan.
Amir Rana, an author and journalist, told the Herald that al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) had long held ambitions to establish their own medical field units to care for injured fighters and had been sending students abroad.
Ul-Haque allegedly underwent a training course in Pakistan last year but decided to return to Sydney to continue his medical studies after being told he would better serve his cause as a doctor, not a martyr, Central Local Court was told last week.
LET began with the goal of liberating Kashmir but it has strong links with al-Qaeda and many of its followers fought in Afghanistan. The detained Australian David Hicks allegedly trained in one of these camps, as did the Frenchman Willie Brigitte.
Ul-Haque’s arrest on Thursday stemmed from the investigation into an alleged terrorist plot involving Brigitte.
Ul-Haque knew one of Brigitte’s associates, a man known as Abu Hamza, who was, according to Brigitte, the Australian “representative” of LET.
Yesterday, Mr Hamza’s lawyer, Stephen Hopper, said his client had no significant link to ul-Haque. He described their relationship as “non-significant” and “non-relevant”.
Mr Hopper would not say where the pair met. “It was an association that was no more than a hi-bye relationship. There was no close relationship at all.
“My guy [Hamza] basically knew who [ul-Haque] was. It’s not like they’d come around to his place and have food. He has never been to this guy’s place.”
According to a Western intelligence source in Islamabad, LET-trained fighters are now turning up in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Chechnya. A number of individuals and small groups have also been arrested in western countries, including Australia.
The source said highly trained LET terrorists had now turned their attention to Islamic causes around the world.
The Aqsa camp, where police allege ul-Haque trained, was used to introduce young men to the world of terrorism.
Students attended three-week courses where they would be drilled on their faith, their knowledge of the Koran and their commitment to the holy war.
The training was conducted in modern buildings, with an Islamic library and computers, and the students would study from early in the morning and relax by playing sport in the afternoon. They also received some light weapons training.
Those deemed suitable would graduate to another camp, where they would be given advanced military and explosives training. Others would be singled out to work in specialist fields, such as medicine.
The journalist Mr Rana said the leaders of al-Qaeda and LET had sought out bright students to run their medical units because their fighters often died from relatively minor injuries due to do a lack of basic care.
“I have been told by LET sources that some students were sent to London and Europe, and even Australia, to get the best education in medicine,” he said.