LONDON At least 900 young British Muslims are leaving the country each year to take part in the battle for Kashmir, with many using holidays from good jobs to fight in what they regard as a holy war, an investigation has revealed.
Recruited in mosques, bookshops and community groups, they spend three months being trained in mountain camps on the side of Pakistan border before entering the conflict against India.
Delhi is so angry about the increasing numbers of fighters being trained, and the (POUND) 7m raised in Britain to “defend” Kashmir, that a private meeting has been called in the Indian capital with representatives of the British Foreign Office and MI5, the security service.
Indian officials will demand that Britain take stronger action to stop recruitment and, fundraising, which they claim foes directly to terrorism and sees up to 1,800 Britons making the journey each year.
MI5, which has a special section dedicated to looking into the problem, disagrees with the Indian estimates. However, a security source said”. There are about 900 UK citizens who make this trip for training each year. About 10% of those stay and fight, the rest take their political and religious indoctrination and bring it back to their own communities, mostly for fundraising and recruitment.”
He said the service was acutely sensitive to accusations that it was targeting Muslims, but insisted that it was targeting terrorists regardless of colour.
The Sunday Times spoke to three men in north. London, all university graduates from middle-class British families, two of whom held down highly paid jobs. All three had trained or fought in Kashmir. Abu Yahya, 27, said. “I have just returned from Pakistan. I joined Islamic camps and met Islamic leaders. There I was trained with movements like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Jehad-Islami and Harkat-ul-Ansar. We were trained to use Kalashnikovs, make bombs, everything that an army would need to wage battle.
Izzadeen Abdullah, a 28-yr-old white former Christian with a degree in optical engineering, adopted Islam, had also recently returned. I crossed the border in Kashmir. I think for any Muslim, the most eagerly awaited opportunity is to kill the enemy. The Indian soldiers dont deserve any mercy and Im happy to say that I took part in wiping them out.
We are planning to go there next month. Im an engineer in fibre optics so I just contract out for a couple of months from a work.
Also in the house was Abu-Ibrahim, a 29-yr-old computer engineer. You would be surprised to know that there are many computer guys in place like Canary Wharf who are involved in these kinds of activities. I have had training here in the Territorial Army and again in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan.
The one thing all three have in common is a fear of the governments new anti-terrorism act, due to come into force this year. They believe it will lead to them being jailed in Britain, if they continue to travel to Pakistan and Kashmir. (Courtesy- Sunday Times London.)
(KASHMIR OBSERVER, 27 January, 2001)
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