Counter-Terrorism: The Traveling Terrorist Training Camp System


December 9, 2005: Despite the loss of training camps in Afghanistan in late 2001, al Qaeda still manages to run a training program. While it has long (before 2001) used the Internet to distribute training manuals, there is still a need for hands- on training. This is especially true for explosives, and bomb making. By 2002, some of the training courses had been re-established in remote areas of Afghanistan, and just across the border in Pakistan.

There were also terrorist training camps in Pakistani Kashmir (for preparing men to operate across the border in Indian Kashmir), but al Qaeda was, as much as possible, kept out of these camps. That's because, while the Pakistani government was willing to fight al Qaeda, it could not go after the Islamic terrorists fighting in Indian Kashmir, and being trained in Pakistani Kashmir. So al Qaeda was, more or less, kept out of the camps used by the Kashmir bound Islamic terrorists.

But up in the mountain villages along the Afghan border, individual al Qaeda bomb and operations experts held quick, and clandestine, courses for Afghans, Pakistanis, as well as men from Arabia and Southeast Asia. Although their were some losses, when Pakistani police, or CIA operatives, caught a class in progress (and inflicted casualties), the system has worked. The "traveling terrorist training camp" idea has spread to Southeast Asia as well. It has not, apparently, shown up in Europe or North American yet, largely because of the need for a really remote area for the testing of student bombs. The West is also a difficult for Islamic terrorists to move about unnoticed.

The hunt for the traveling terror instructors continues, although many of the faculty captures are not publicized for one reason (they are sometimes snatched in countries that would otherwise leave them alone) or another (it's important to keep the trainers disappearance secret so that you can more easily chase down other terrorists.) The traveling training system does not educate nearly as many terrorists as did the system of fixed camps in Afghanistan before 2002. But many future attacks will be traced back to skills acquired on the run after 2001.


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