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Inside Pakistan's terror schools

December 13, 2008
Terror training schools, teaching hundreds of new and young recruits in suicide missions and the use of sophisticated weapons, have been active in many parts of Pakistan, including Punjab, the North West Frontier Province, Waziristan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Different terrorist groups, including the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, often with the help of former Pakistan army soldiers, run these schools or camps. The syllabus, the training and indoctrination are far more sophisticated than the pre-9/11 training camps.

The terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008, and killed over 160 people were trained in one or two of these schools where several hundred others have been undergoing training for more than two years.

Wilson John, a Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, reveals how Pakistan's duplicitous policy on terrorism threatens, and will continue to threaten, not only India but also the western world in the years to come.

Reports of the presence of new terrorist training camps in Waziristan and the North West Frontier Province began to appear in the Pakistan media as far back as late 2006, after President Pervez Musharraf signed a peace deal with the Taliban sheltered in these areas.

Herald, a widely read English monthly published by the Dawn group of publications, reported in June 2006 about the fresh recruitment drive launched by the terrorist groups and the sprouting of training camps.

According to the report, at least three major jihadi groups maintain their liaison and recruitment offices in the Timergara area of Lower Dir district. These include the Hizb-ul Mujahideen, Al Badr Mujahideen, now re-named as Al Suffa Foundation, and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, renamed as Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

Other jihadi organisations that have either offices or training camps in the Timergara and Warai areas of Dir include the Jaish-e-Mohammad, which now calls itself Al Rahman Trust, the Harkat-ul-Ansar, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and a Kashmiri group called the Pasban Millat.

Herald reported the presence of more than a thousand trained militants in three camps in the Hazara region of NWFP alone.

At about the same time, Afghan national television reported (October 5, 2006) that the Lashkar was forming suicide-bombing squads to help the Taliban fight the NATO forces and was recruiting Afghan refugees to take up arms against the Afghan government and the NATO forces.

Citing a known case of recruitment, the report said the Lashkar recruits went to the Ahl-e-hadith mosque in the Jalozai refugee camp in Peshawar where the youth were promised training and money if they agreed to join jihad.

The first terrorist leader to acknowledge this development was Jaish-e-Mohammad's Masood Azhar who wrote in his weekly column in an obscure but popular pro-Al Qaeda Urdu weekly, al Qalam, (December 2006) that 'the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are working actively in Kashmir and they are giving the Hindus a tough time'.

He said the 'mujahideen in Kashmir were coming from Dir, North West Frontier Province and it was not possible for Musharraf to stop them'. Upper Dir is one of the northern most districts in the NWFP and borders Chitral, Swat and Malakand districts of the NWFP, in addition to Bajaur Agency in FATA.

Image: The Al-Dawah University (Jamia Al-Dawah) Markaz Taiba, Lahore

Also see: Wilson John: Mumbai attack shows Lashkar, Al Qaeda hand
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