New Delhi, May 1 : Pro-Taliban groups and al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan are increasingly being recognized as one of the main drivers of Islamist extremism and terrorism in the European Union (EU), according to a EU terrorism situation and trend report.
The report reveals that during 2007, terrorism investigations in at least three countries showed links to groups in this region.
According to the report, the tribal areas of Pakistan host a number of terrorist training camps operating in support of the Afghan Taliban, pro-Taliban Pakistani groups and foreign mujahideen. Both Germany and Denmark reported that several suspects in the attempted terrorist attacks in 2007 had received training in Pakistan, the report adds.
The report says that these camps in Pakistan have links to the increasingly active core-structure of al-Qaeda, which is currently based in the Pashtun tribal areas.
The report pointed out the fact that terrorist attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan increased significantly in 2007, compared to 2006 and these attacks were mainly directed at foreign troops in Afghanistan and government troops in Pakistan.
"In July 2007, the frequency of attacks in Pakistan more than doubled and remained high throughout the rest of the year. This shift happened virtually overnight and coincided with the storming by Pakistani security forces of the besieged complex of Lal Masjid, the Red Mosque, in the capital Islamabad on 11 July, during which the pro- Taliban militants inside the complex were defeated," stated the report.
Afghanistan and Pakistan in general, and the Pashtun areas in particular, are of utmost importance to EU counter-terrorism, said the report adding that in the past, terrorist links between Pakistan and the EU were almost exclusively focused on the UK.
The foiled plot in Germany, related to an Uzbek group based in the Pakistani tribal areas, and recent cases in the UK and Denmark indicate an increasingly assertive and efficient Pakistani-based command and control of Islamist terrorism in the EU it said.
According to the reports key findings, in 2007, the European Union saw two failed and two attempted attacks related to Islamic terrorism; and the arrest of 201 suspects.
The failed and attempted attacks in the member states were aimed at causing indiscriminate mass casualties by means of detonating a main charge composed of home-made explosives. In two cases the suspects attempted to produce TATP.
It also reveals that manuals on how to build bombs, together with Islamic terrorist propaganda, are increasingly spread on the Internet. In 2007, al-Qaeda launched an unprecedented media campaign.
The other points mentioned in the report were as follows:
- Islamist terrorist propaganda is increasingly available in European languages.
- The Al-Qaeda's remaining core leadership in the tribal areas of Pakistan is exercising command and control on and inspiration for planning attacks in the EU.
- A number of EU-nationals who attended training in Pakistan were later involved in terrorist offences in the EU.
- The member states are threatened with violence by Islamic terrorist groups outside and within the EU in an attempt to influence national policies in conflict areas.
- Although the majority of all arrested suspects for Islamic terrorism continue to be North African citizens, the member states reported a high number of arrested suspects with the nationality of the country of arrest.
- The number of persons arrested for recruitment increased. The majority of the suspects were arrested for recruiting for jihad in Iraq, while Somalia was reported as a new destination for jihadists.
- Suspects arrested in relation to financing of terrorism, handling of false documents and training are generally older that those arrested for recruitment, facilitation and the production and spreading of propaganda.
- The member states on the eastern border of the EU may be used as transit countries for terrorists in order to reach other parts of Europe.