Tiny Minority of Extremists Update: the Taliban has asked 10,000 jihadists from moderate, peaceful Uzbekistan to come help them out in Helmand. “Taliban ‘invite’ 10,000 Uzbeks to Helmand,” by Massoud Ansari in the Sunday Telegraph, with thanks to all who sent this in:
Islamic militants linked to Osama bin Laden have been offered a safe haven by the Taliban in Afghanistan, bringing them into conflict with British troops patrolling the lawless province of Helmand.
Uzbek gunmen, who fought a series of bloody battles last week with Pakistani tribesmen in the border region of Waziristan, where they had been living, have been told they should join the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan instead.
The move raises the prospect of a major upsurge in violence in Helmand, where 43 British soldiers have been killed in clashes with militants over the last five years.
The group of around 10,000 Uzbeks are led by Tahir Yuldashev, a close associate of the al-Qaeda terrorist chief, who is believed to be hiding out in the mountainous border area with his chief henchman Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The members of the Islamic Movement Union of Uzbekistan fell out with their Pakistani hosts after accusing some tribal leaders of acting as agents of the Pakistani government, which is under huge pressure from the US to crack down on Islamic militants. Pakistan government officials said that nearly 160 people, including 130 Uzbeks, were killed in the battle.