Qaeda training Europeans to carry attacks at home
Al Qaeda is training and encouraging Britons and Europeans fighting in Syria to return to their countries as "jihadists" and carry out car bombings and suicide attacks on home soil, according to a media report.Updated: Jan 21, 2014 11:33 IST
Al Qaeda is training and encouraging Britons and Europeans fighting in Syria to return to their countries as "jihadists" and carry out car bombings and suicide attacks on home soil, according to a media report.
An al Qaeda defector has said that recruits from Britain, Europe and the US were being indoctrinated in extremist anti-Western ideology, trained for suicide bombings and sent home to start new terror cells, The Telegraph reported.
The paper quoted the defector from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), one of the most feared militant groups fighting the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, as saying that the young British men who have travelled to Syria are being brainwashed by fanatics.
"The foreigners were proud of 9/11 and the London bombings. The British, French and American mujahideen (holy warrior) in the room started talking about places that they wanted to bomb or explode themselves in Europe and the US. Everyone named a target. The American said he dreamed of blowing up the White House," the former jihadi, known as Murad, told the paper.
"Some of my European colleagues in ISIS told me that our emir was sending them to Europe to teach people jihad," he said, adding that ISIS leaders had discussed attacking Western targets.
His comments echo the concerns of the security services at a time when it is feared that up to 500 Britons are fighting in Syria and could return to emulate attacks such as the London bombings and 9/11, the paper said.
"The teachings by the older jihadists were very hardline," said Murad, who appeared to be in his early 20s.
He said every morning his group would wake at 5am to pray. After that they would study the Koran and then do two or three hours of military training. This included how to make and detonate car bombs and suicide vests.
"We all know how to do this now," he said.
"It is one of the first things they teach us, the simple training... We had to wear them (suicide vests) to battles. The purpose for this is not to let ourselves be kidnapped or arrested. It is very easy. I even taught my two brothers how to make a vest" said Murad.
He, however, did not reveal details of how foreign fighters were travelling between Europe and Syria.
The paper said British security and intelligence agencies believe the threat of would-be terrorists being directed back to the UK by al-Qaeda organisers in Syria is growing.
"The threat from Syria is dominating the work of MI5 and the spy agency has had to allocate more and more resources to tackling the danger in the past six months," the paper said.
"Some have gone to the country (Syria) with genuine intentions to fight the regime but are then brainwashed by al-Qaeda and encouraged to return home and launch attacks there instead," it said, security citing officials.
First Published: Jan 21, 2014 11:00 IST