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Europeans trained in Pak terror camps planning attacks

White Europeans, being trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan's tribal belt, have been dispatched to plan attacks against Europe and US.

world Updated: Jun 21, 2008 14:48 IST

Dozens of white Europeans, trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan's tribal belt, have been dispatched to plan attacks against Europe and possibly the US in what the American intelligence fears may be beginning of a new breed of Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror, a media report said.

The terrorists, ABC News said quoting intelligence sources, hail from the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Romania and Estonia.

There is growing evidence that some European recruits may have already gone operational, the television network said, adding that two of the suspects arrested in a September 2007 plot to kill American soldiers in Germany were native Germans.

An April 2008 report from Europol also noted that an increasing number of European nationals attended training in Pakistan "and were later involved in, or suspected of, terrorist offences in the EU," the report said.

Intelligence officials told ABC News that the remote tribal areas along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan have in the last several years become a haven for terrorist recruiting and training. Hundreds of radicals from across the region have flocked to Al-Qaeda training camps in the area.

In interviews with the network and in a series of little-noticed public statements and reports, intelligence officials have said they believe Al-Qaeda has successfully completed a major goal: recruiting and training Western would-be terrorists.

"Al-Qaeda is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the US: the identification, training and positioning of operatives for an attack in the Homeland," ABC News said citing a February Threat Assessment report from the Director of National Intelligence. "We have seen an influx of new Western recruits into the tribal area since mid-2006," the report said.

Those Western recruits, the television network said, are thought to be more difficult to detect and able to easily enter Europe and the US and blend in with Western culture.

"They're recruiting operatives from Europe. Why? If you're from Europe, it doesn't require a visa to fly to the United States," Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, had said in a speech in March.

"So if you can get a disgruntled person in Europe to come to Pakistan to be trained in how to buy something commercially - hydrogen peroxide - (and) use it in a particular way, you could have mass casualties in the United States greater than 9/11," he said, according to ABC News.

The network noted that CIA Director Michael Hayden, in a speech in April, said the recruits "wouldn't cause you any concern or draw your attention if they were in the passport line at Dulles with you. I mean, they look Western and they fit in. So that's one, the continued intent to attack, training to attack, using Western operatives."

Despite these public warnings, the network said, members of Congress, including Republicans, say they are frustrated that the Bush administration and Pakistan have not done more to shut down the camps. "The result that we have today is not acceptable," Congressman Pete Hoekstra, Republican, was quoted as saying. "You can't have those camps in place in Pakistan."

Intelligence officials told ABC News the administration is trying to target key Al-Qaeda leaders in the tribal regions with Predator airplane attacks and recently killed one leader who helped coordinate European operatives. The US has also urged the Pakistani government to be aggressive in pursuing terrorist leaders in the tribal areas, these sources said.

The Pakistani government has said it is committed to stopping militants in the area.