Training camp denial in Pakistan

NY Times:

Mujahid Mohiyuddin insists that he and his district are innocent.

Speaking in his religious seminary, or madrassa, in the Mansehra district of northern Pakistan, the young cleric admitted receiving military training in 1996 from Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen, or Movement for Holy Warriors, a Pakistani group linked to Al Qaeda and the killing of the American journalist Daniel Pearl.

But he insisted that the group had disbanded and that training camps no longer operated in the district. "The government has imposed restrictions on the holy war," he said. "There are not any training camps in the country, especially Mansehra."

This picturesque area of rolling Himalayan foothills, thick forests and isolated farms is the focus of bitter charges that Pakistan continues to allow terrorist training camps to operate on its soil.

During the past year, Taliban prisoners captured in Afghanistan, opposition politicians in Pakistan and Afghan and Indian government officials have said repeatedly that training camps are active in the Mansehra district and other parts of Pakistan, while Pakistani officials vehemently deny they exist.

Last summer, a young Pakistani captured with Taliban forces in Afghanistan said in an interview with The New York Times that he was trained in the Mansehra district by the group Mr. Mohiyuddin said had been disbanded. An armed Pakistani captured in Afghanistan told a private Afghan television channel in June that he had been trained there.

In July, two militants told a Pakistani journalist working on contract for The New York Times that they met one of the July 7 London bombing suspects, Shehzad Tanweer, on a trip to a militant training camp in the Mansehra district last winter. Three Pakistanis recently sentenced to prison terms in Afghanistan for trying to assassinate the American ambassador said they had been trained in the district, an Afghan intelligence official said.

Another Pakistani captured in Afghanistan this month said he had been trained in the Mansehra district.

Sher Ali, a 28-year-old night watchman from Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province who was caught in July on his way to join the mujahedeen, described his training in an interview in a Kabul jail.

The interview took place in an office at the prison on Aug. 14, with no guards present. Mr. Ali described a seemingly underground system in Pakistan that trains fighters and sends them into Afghanistan. He said he met an Afghan at a friend's house in Miranshah, in Pakistan's tribal areas of North Waziristan, a lawless mountain region in which Pakistan says it has deployed 70,000 troops to hunt for militants.

After receiving directions from the Afghan, he journeyed alone to a camp hidden in the mountains above the Mansehra district. "Nowadays they don't have legal camps," he said. "I got the feeling it was a very secret place."

No kidding. There is much more evidence of cooperation witht he Taliban by some in Pakistan. Read it all. It explains a lot about how the Taliban have kept their weak insurgency on life support.


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