Militants' quick training in Pakistan poses problem to intelligence agencies
- 'Fast turnaround' militants are able to stay below radar before returning home to launch attacks, analysts say
Caption: Militants training in Pakistan's Waziristan area near the border with Afghanistan. Photograph: Saood Rehman/EPA
Western security officials are worried about a wave of so-called "fast turnaround" volunteers who travel to Pakistan and obtain training from militant groups so quickly that they escape detection before returning to their home countries to launch attacks.
Analysts say the unprecedented speed with which new militants are being accepted for training by groups such as al-Qaida poses major problems for intelligence services as such individuals are likely to stay "below the radar".
The fears have been reinforced by one recent episode when, security sources say, British volunteers arrived in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, found their way to a religious school that has a reputation as a gateway to militant groups and, though they appear to have had no references, were within days participating in a training course run by al-Qaida or a linked extremist organisation in the rugged tribal zone along the frontier with Afghanistan.
After only a short stay in Pakistan, the volunteers had returned to the UK. Previously volunteers would have had to travel with reliable references from individuals known and trusted by extremist groups in Pakistan and would spend weeks "in quarantine" before being accepted. Frequently they would be tested in combat or in other ways to ensure they were not spies.