LONDON, April 28: A damning report by the European Police Office puts Pakistan in the spotlight, pointing an accusing finger at the tribal areas as the “command and control centre” for Al Qaeda’s “remaining core leadership” planning attacks in the EU.
The annual “Terrorism Situation and Trend Report-2008” by Europol is an important awareness tool for decision-makers at the European level.
The report is likely to generate an EU-wide policy discussion and response. Emphasising the need for policy focus on troubled spots, the report says: “Afghanistan and Pakistan in general and the Pashtun areas in particular are of utmost importance to EU counter-terrorism.”
The report says that in the past, terrorist links between Pakistan and the EU were almost exclusively focused on the UK, but now the terrorism expanding in the EU.
It said that the foiled plot in Germany, related to an Uzbek group based in the tribal areas, and recent cases in the UK and Denmark indicated an increasingly assertive and efficient Pakistani-based command and control of terrorism in the EU.
It also said that a number of EU nationals who attended training in Pakistan were later involved in terrorist offences in the EU.
The report said: “The tribal areas of Pakistan host a number of terrorist training camps operating in support of the Afghan Taliban, pro-Taliban Pakistani groups and foreign Mujahideen.”
“Afghan Taliban and pro-Taliban groups in Pakistan have links to the increasingly active core-structure of Al Qaeda that is currently based in the Pashtun tribal areas in western Pakistan. There it is believed to have reorganised and rebuilt its capabilities as well as its command and control functions.”
The report said that “over the past five years much of the command, control and inspiration for planning attacks came from Al Qaeda’s remaining core leadership in the tribal areas of Pakistan”.
The report said that in 2007, member states had observed an “increasing number of plots confined to a single member state but with links to Al Qaeda-affiliated groups based in Pakistan”.
According to the report, majority of the arrested suspects in the foiled attacks in Germany and Denmark had received some form of training in Pakistan.
The trial, in 2007, of the perpetrators of the failed attack in London on July 21, 2005, revealed that they had received training both in Pakistan and in the UK.
Europol said Romania reported an increase in the number of individuals attempting to enter the country illegally from Pakistan with the aim of moving to other member states.
It said that an attempted attack in Germany showed the emergence of a Pakistani-based group with links to Al Qaeda, which had not previously been involved in attacks within the EU, able to provide logistical support to terrorists in member states.
According to the report, the three persons arrested on September 4, 2007, for planning several coordinated bomb attacks in Germany had “acquired the knowhow to build the bombs mainly through specialised explosives training courses in training camps in Pakistan, run by the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU).”
It said that one of the eight people arrested in the attempted attack on Denmark in what is now called the Glasvej case, received training for bomb making in Pakistan. It says the Pakistani-born Danish citizen after returning from Pakistan manufactured and tested tricycloacetone triperoxide (TATP). The trial of the Danish citizen and his Afghan accomplice is expected to start this summer.