At first glance, fighting in Iraq and Zarb-i-Azb seem to be completely unrelated. Iraqis are fighting over control over their own country, and Army is fighting to retain control of ours. What is being missed however is an important connection that could undermine any success Army sees from operations in North Waziristan. It is a threat that we would be very mistaken to ignore.
It would be a stretch of the imagination to connect ISIS in Iraq and jihadi militants in Waziristan except for one important fact: Pakistanis are fighting in Syrian and Iraq.
According to news reports, Pakistanis have been among the killed ISIS militants in Iraq.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) terrorist group recruits many fighters from various different countries, all of them banding together for the same cause.
According to BasNews’ security source, that an unknown number of these foreign militants, both Afghani and Pakistani, have been buried in a village called Ashanna in the Kirkuk Province.
Turkey has long complained that al Qaeda is training Syrian militants in Pakistan, and TTP has also announced that they have joined forces with the Syrian jihadis and set up camps in that country as well.
On Sunday, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders in Pakistan said they have set up camps and sent hundreds of militants to Syria.
“We have established our own camps in Syria. Some of our people go and then return after spending some time fighting there,” a Taliban commander said on condition of anonymity.
Another commander noted that the al-Qaeda-linked militants would be available when their “brothers” needed their help, adding that the decision to send men had come at the request of “Arab friends.”
The presence of Pakistanis among jihadi militants in foreign Iraq and Syria could undermine any success of Army’s anti-Taliban operations as these experienced fighters return to Pakistan. Another country with similar concerns is Indonesia.
But the civil war in Syria has reignited interest in jihad as some Muslims believe it is the start of the Islamic equivalent of Armageddon.
“Some jihadists in Indonesia see ISIL as the embryo of an Islamic caliphate, which is their ultimate goal,” said Solahudin, author of “The Roots of Terrorism in Indonesia” who goes by one name.
The fighters, almost entirely young men, are being wooed online. YouTube pulled a video from two channels Thursday of five Indonesian men in balaclavas claiming to be in Syria, calling for their compatriots to join the fight.
Radical Islamic websites, such al-Mustaqbal and VOA Islam, are publishing pro-ISIL news stories, describing its takeover of Iraqi cities as the “liberation” of Sunni Muslims in Shia-majority Iraq.
Most Indonesians are Sunni Muslims and tensions with minority Shias have intensified in recent years. Terrorism expert Andrie said returnees would likely exacerbate sectarian clashes.
Same can also be said for Pakistan, so why is our media ignoring this threat to national security? Zarb-i-Azb can only succeed in temporarily ending terrorism in our country if we ignore the threat posed by new generations of jihadis to create the next wave of anti-Pakistan attacks. Iraq and Syria may seem far away today, but their problems may come back to us sooner than we realise.