Paris: The Afghan-Pakistan jihad is attracting
fewer foreign fighters following the death of Osama bin Laden,
the growing threat posed by US drones, and lack of funds,
Western security officials say.
While no precise figure is available, it would appear
that the number of would-be jihadists from abroad has been
drying up, according to one security official who declined to
However, more Pakistanis are willing to take up the fight
and make up the numbers, he also warned.
"Over the past six months, young Frenchmen there have
nearly all left Pakistan. There were 20 to 30 of them, who had
either converted (to Islam) or had links to the Maghreb; today
there are hardly any left," he said.
"Other European countries whose nationals used to go to
Pakistan to join the jihad have drawn the same conclusion -- a
drastic reduction over recent months," he added.
The "Arab Spring" revolts also acted as a magnet, with a
number of jihadists moving to Libya to join the fight to
remove Muammar Gaddafi from power, he said.
"Fighting in Afghanistan is also less attractive because
of the idea that the Afghan Taliban want to concentrate more
on home fighting and that world jihad is less and less their
cup of tea," he added.
For Frank Cilluffo, who co-authored "Foreign Fighters"
for the Homeland Security Policy Institute, "first and
foremost, military actions, including the use of drones, has
made the environment less hospitable to foreign fighters
travelling to the region, by disrupting al Qaeda`s (and
associated entities`) training camps and pipelines."
Direct and indirect accounts by jihadists also speak of
disarray within Al-Qaeda in northwestern Pakistan where
activists avoid coming together for fear of being attacked and
whose weapons training now takes place indoors because of
aerial and satellite surveillance.
In a report, entitled "Militant Pipeline" describing the
links between the northwestern Pakistani frontier and the
West, researcher Paul Cruickshank quotes one Ustadh Ahmad
Faruq, described as a Pakistan-based Al-Qaeda spokesman who
recently acknowledged his network`s difficulties.
"The freedom we enjoyed in a number of regions has been
lost. We are losing people and lack resources. Our land is
being squeezed and drones fly over us," he reportedly said in
an audio cassette.