One of the great mystifications of the al Qaeda operation in Iraq is the abundance of terrorist manpower at its disposal. It is sufficient for whole units to be diverted to other Middle East arenas (as revealed by debkafile. See HOT POINTS below), while yet pursuing its anti-US, anti-Iraq government and anti-Shiite campaigns in Iraq.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terror sources now reveal the outflow of terrorist fighters which began early October to a new point further east, Afghanistan, aboard a sort of airlift.
Some 500 to 600 fighting men have been flown out of Baghdad international airport to this destination by two routes.
One went through Qatar international airport near the American military command headquarters. The travelers arrive fully equipped with valid Iraqi passports stamped with entry visas for Afghanistan, return tickets for Qatar Airways to Bagram, Kabul’s airport, and back. They carried authentic Baghdad government accreditation as bona fide businessmen who were flying over on visits.
An inquiry revealed the tickets had been purchased for cash in several travel agencies in central Baghdad. The al Qaeda operatives spent two or three days in Qatar waiting for their flight to Kabul. On arrival, they were picked up by cars that drove them in groups of three or four to Konduz in northern Afghanistan.
All this suggests that the terrorist organization has collaborators not only in Iraqi travel agencies but in key government ministries in Baghdad as well.
Al Qaeda makes free of Afghanistan – again
The second route went through Iran and has not been uncovered because Tehran refuses to acknowledge the passage of al Qaeda men. However, this route also ended at Konduz.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources add that all the arrivals were put together in three training facilities at Konduz and given special courses in advanced guerrilla combat tactics.
Konduz was the site of one of the great battles of the 2001 Afghan War. It was fought against al Qaeda by the Afghan Northern Alliance spearheaded by Russian and Uzbek special armored forces up until early November 2001.
Today, Konduz is under British military control. The British spotted the al Qaeda arrivals and informed Washington, advising the Americans that the training camps could be raided and eliminated with the help of an extra several thousand American troops and air cover.
According to our sources in Kabul, as the exchanges between the British commanders and Washington dragged on, the facilities began to empty and some of the trainees headed out to unknown parts.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly will reveal their next mission in one of its next issues.
After the Amman hotel blasts, debkafile reported that al Qaeda in Iraq had begun diverting its fighting strength to Syria, Jordan, Sinai and the Gaza Strip for the next wave of attacks.
One tantalizing question is how do the jihadists fool all the intelligence watchers and move about so freely inside Iraq and across its b orders.
It is not the only question; how has al Qaeda been able to run three training facilities in Afghanistan with the knowledge of Western intelligence, train fighting men there and prepare them for new missions while escaping interference?