London, July 21 : Western intelligence agencies have reportedly claimed that Afghanistan was fast turning into a safe haven for foreign militants, after the fall of Iraq, as more and more young militants were getting attracted to Afghanistan to take part in a "more pristine" jihad over there.
"Iraq is seen as a defeat. The image of Afghanistan is seen as a more pristine jihad," timesonline.com quoted Brian Glyn Williams, who researches jihadist websites for the Combating Terrorism Centre at the US military academy at West Point, as saying.
He said 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.
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."