Washington, July 10 : Pakistan is said to be fast turning into a preferred destination for foreign fighters from countries like from the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, who join militants there. Most of these foreign fighters were Sunnis seeking to take up arms against the West, suggest intelligence inputs from the US Army.
They sneak into the tribal areas of Pakistan to carry on with their ill designs against the West, add the intelligence inputs.
According to a US military spokesman in Baghdad, the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq has dropped to fewer than 40 every month from as many as 110 a month a year ago.
American military and intelligence officials say the influx, which could be in the dozens but could also be higher, shows a "further strengthening" of the position of the forces of Al Qaeda in the tribal areas, increasingly seen as an important base of support for the Taliban, whose forces in Afghanistan have become more aggressive in their campaign against American-led troops, reported the New York Times.
Many of these fighters making their way to the tribal areas are Uzbeks, North Africans and Arabs from Persian Gulf states, the American officials said and added that some jihadist Web sites have been encouraging foreign militants to go to Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is considered a "winning fight," compared with the insurgency in Iraq, which has suffered sharp setbacks recently.
Some of the foreign militants take commercial flights into Pakistan and make their way to the tribal areas by car or bus, while a smaller, undetermined number go overland through Iran and then up through Baluchistan, the Defense Department official said. General McKiernan said, "There are noticeably more non-Pashtun-speaking fighters than this time last year."
Some American intelligence officials cautioned, however, that the increases were still relatively small, perhaps a few dozen - military and independent analysts estimate between 150 and 500 hard-core Qaeda fighters are operating in the tribal area - and that Al Qaeda was still recruiting fighters and suicide bombers for both Afghanistan and Iraq.
With the number of attacks in eastern Afghanistan up by 40 percent from a year ago, senior Bush administration officials have been voicing increasing alarm about the growing strength of the militants using havens in Pakistan.
"The ability of the Taliban and other insurgents to cross that border and not being under any pressure from the Pakistani side of the border is clearly a concern.
That's the area that needs to be addressed with the Pakistani government," said US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently.