Speaking of foreign jihadists, “NATO-Afghan force also detained an al Qaeda fighter of Moroccan origin who lived in Germany,” and who had entered Afghanistan through Iran.
What should be striking in all of this is the uniformity with which jihadists from places far removed from one another “misunderstand” Islam, and their ability to find common cause even in what are described as “local” or “regional” conflicts. “NATO on alert for influx of foreign fighters in southern Afghanistan,” by Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister for CNN, May 24:
Coalition forces in Afghanistan say that a recent security operation in the southeast part of the country suggests an influx of foreign fighters may be underway, just as the Taliban begins its “fighting season” against NATO troops.
And intelligence analysts say it seems a growing number of Europeans are among them.
On the night of May 8, a joint NATO-Afghan force encountered a group of militants in a place called Qalat, a district in Zabul province in southeastern Afghanistan. Ten militants were killed, according to a statement Tuesday from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
The combined force “found passports and identification cards from France, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia amongst ten insurgents killed during the operation,” the statement said.
The NATO-Afghan force also detained an al Qaeda fighter of Moroccan origin who lived in Germany — and who provided details about other foreign fighters. The detainee said he had “observed foreigners from many countries converging in Pakistan to conduct attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan,” according to ISAF.
ISAF says the captured man had provided “information on the mechanics of getting foreign fighters to Afghanistan.” He said he had come through Iran — a route frequently used by al Qaeda and other jihadist groups – where he had been approached to become a suicide bomber.
The Moroccan was not identified, but news of his presence among militants will heighten worries in Germany about the number of its residents setting off to wage jihad. German authorities believe at least 220 German residents received training in Pakistan in the years after 9/11; around 40 are still suspected of being in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Others have returned to Germany and are under surveillance, according to German counterterrorism officials.
Many jihadists from Germany have joined an al Qaeda affiliate called the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The IMU has been active in Zabul, the province where the German-Moroccan was recently captured.
Among them were two brothers of Moroccan origin living in Bonn, who left Germany several years ago.
Yassin and Mounir Chouka first went to Yemen. In a February 2011 internet statement, Yassin Chouka said they had met fugitive preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.
“We benefited a lot from (Awlaki) and spent priceless hours with him,” he wrote. The Chouka brothers apparently spent about a year in Yemen before moving on to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.