British Muslims have become a mainstay of the global ‘jihad’

More than 4,000 British Muslims have passed through terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to security agencies, providing a fertile recruitment pool for the Islamist international jihad. Men from the UK’s Kashmiri community have joined groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, the prime suspects in the Mumbai attacks, which have been fighting against Indian forces in Kashmir. Others from a Pakistani background are in the ranks of the Taliban and other groups taking part in action against British and Nato forces in Afghanistan. A former commander of the British force in Helmand, Brigadier Ed Butler, has revealed that his troops had come across British Muslims in southern Afghanistan. “There are British passport holders who live in the UK who are being found in places such as Kandahar,” he said. “There is a link between Kandahar and urban conurbations in the UK. This is something the military understands, but the British public does not.” Last year, RAF Nimrod intelligence-gathering aircraft tracking Taliban radio signals in Afghanistan heard insurgent fighters speaking with Yorkshire and Midlands accents. As well as fighters joining their ranks, groups such as Lashkar also benefit from funds raised on their behalf in the UK by the Muslim community. It has also been claimed that some of the aid money donated for the earthquake disaster relief three years ago was siphoned off for militant groups. Lashkar, previously known as Jaish-e-Mohammed, has forged links with al-Qa’ida in Pakistan and are said to have shared training camps. One of their most famous recruits was Rashid Rauf, accused of being a key member in the plot to blow up transatlantic airliners, who was recently reported to have been killed in an American missile strike. Kim Sengupta reports.

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