Captured Al Qaeda: Foreign Fighters 'Converging' in Pakistan

"Facilitator" reveals details on al Qaeda smuggling foreigners into Afghanistan.

ByABC News
May 24, 2011, 11:03 AM

May 24, 2011 — -- A Moroccan al Qaeda operative captured in Afghanistan told coalition forces earlier this month that foreign fighters were "converging" in Pakistan in hopes of carrying out attacks across the border in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force said late Monday.

The unnamed captive, who is described as a "Germany-based Moroccan al Qaeda foreign fighter facilitator," was captured by coalition and Afghan forces on May 8 in southeast Afghanistan.

"After his capture the facilitator provided details about his personal travel from Germany," a statement from the ISAF said. "He also observed foreigners from many countries converging in Pakistan to conduct attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan."

In the same operation in Afghanistan in which the facilitator was captured, the ISAF said they recovered passports and identification cards from France, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia among 10 killed insurgents.

The U.S. military estimates there are approximately 100 al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan at any moment, most from Arab countries and Pakistan, although European fighters have been spotted in increasing numbers in recent years. Almost all of them enter through the Pakistani tribal areas, according to U.S., Afghan, and Pakistani officials.

"The Afghanistan-Pakistan region seems to be a revolving door for extremists," said an April 2011 report from the Army. "The foreign fighter flow in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region seems to flow strongly both in and out of the region."

Two days after the facilitator's capture, ISAF U.S. Maj. Gen. John Campbell told reporters the ISAF had received reports of an influx of foreign fighters joining al Qaeda's cause in Afghanistan following the Navy SEAL raid that killed the terror group's leader, Osama bin Laden, on May 2. However, he said his men had yet to encounter them.

"I have not seen a large number of foreign fighters come through since bin Laden's death," Campbell said. "I will tell you, over the course of the year -- if I was to put a guesstimate on the percentage -- it's really around 80 percent are from Afghanistan, and it's probably 15 [percent] to 20 percent foreign fighters... I don't think that's gone up or gone down here over the last several months."

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The captured Moroccan is also apparently providing intelligence about how foreign fighters move into Afghanistan from around the world and described his own journey to the front lines from Germany. The ISAF said it hoped that information will "support targeting the network of facilitators who bring global terrorism to bear on coalition forces and civilians in Afghanistan."

Though the ISAF declined to provide details on the Moroccan's personal travels, it did say that the facilitator said that when his travel was delayed in Iran, he was approached and asked to become a suicide bomber.

"However, he declined because of his goal to take part in the Global Jihad," the ISAF statement said.

The facilitator is not the first to successfully travel from Germany to the Middle East in hopes of joining the jihad there. In the fall of 2010, U.S. forces captured German national Ahmed Siddiqui who described a "multi-city" terror plot against Europe. Siddiqui said the plan had been personally blessed by bin Laden.

READ: German Terror Connection Grows, 45 More Suspects Being Tracked