The recruit for jihad across borders always proceeds along explicitly religious lines, with stress placed upon the supranational character of the Islamic umma, and upon the traditional Islamic idea that defensive jihad becomes obligatory upon each and every Muslim if a Muslim land is attacked. The fact that jihadists would travel to Afghanistan at this point, as they previously traveled to Iraq, Bosnia, and elsewhere, also illustrates the hollowness of the common idea that Muslims are engaged in a series of nationalist struggles across the globe, but the religious character of them is purely incidental.
“Afghanistan’s ‘pristine jihad’ draws in outsiders trained in Pakistan: Afghani warlord insurgents are being bolstered by men from Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Turkey and Pakistan,” by Tom Coghlan in the Times, July 21 :
Afghanistan is replacing Iraq as the destination of choice for international jihadists, Western intelligence agencies claim. Analysts have monitored a surge in online recruitment of “lions of Islam” to join the war in Afghanistan through jihadist websites, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Chechnya and Turkey, in the past year.
That is now being matched by evidence of an increase in foreign fighters entering Afghanistan, mostly from training bases established in the lawless Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) of Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.
One Kabul-based Western diplomat, who did not want to be named, said: “There is a change with an increase in attacks in the east [along the Pakistan border] and more chatter of foreign voices is being detected.”
Intelligence officials say that the number of al-Qaeda-linked foreign fighters involved remains small within the overall context of the Taleban insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, on a trip to Kabul last week Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters: “There are clearly more foreign fighters in the Fata than have been there in the past. What that really speaks to is that’s a safe haven and it’s got to be eliminated for all insurgents, not just al-Qaeda.”
Brian Glyn Williams, who researches jihadist websites for the Combating Terrorism Centre at the US military academy at West Point, told The Times that jihadist websites across the Middle East had shown a huge increase in the number of epitaphs for foreign fighters killed in Afghanistan in recent months. They have also reflected the despair of many al-Qaeda followers at the reverses the group has suffered in Iraq since the Sunni Awakening, an alliance of US forces with previously anti-government Sunni militias that turned against al-Qaeda, particularly in the province of Anbar.
Dr Williams said: “The Anbar Awakening really broke the hearts of a lot of al-Qaeda followers who saw the jihad in Iraq in black-and-white terms. Sunni Arab al-Qaeda were pushed out by fellow Sunni Arabs.
“Iraq is seen as a defeat. The image of Afghanistan is seen as a more pristine jihad.”…