Toulouse "gunman" suspected of training in Pakistan

 
According to French authorities, the suspect in the killings of three Jewish children, a rabbi and three paratroopers in the south of France has links to jihadists, and has spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past.
 
France's Interior Minister Claude Guéant said that this knowledge had prompted intelligence agents to track the suspect for several years. However, he said he had given them no reason to suspect he was preparing a criminal act.
 
The suspect has been named as Mohammed Merah, a 24-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent. He told police he belongs to al-Qaeda. He claimed to have carried out the killings to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and protest French troops' presence in Afghanistan.
 
We spoke to an expert on extremism to find out what kind of training foreign jihadists have access to in Pakistan.
 

 Inside a Taliban training camp in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Undated video.
Contributors

"You can't just walk into a terrorist training camp"

Irfan Husain is a Pakistani journalist. He is the author of "Fatal Faultlines", a book on Islamic radicalisation.
 
Usually, foreigners who come to Pakistan and train in terrorist camps are of Pakistani descent, but not always – the infamous Shoe Bomber, for example, was British, born to English mother and Jamaican father.
 
You can't just walk into a terrorist training camp. Typically, these young men already know someone there or they have contacted preachers over the Internet. When they arrive in Pakistan, they first attend Islamic schools to receive religious training. Those who recruit them take time to know them, to make sure they're not spies. Once they're sure they're genuine, they dress them up in local clothing and drive them into the hills - sometimes blindfolded - to camps where they are given training in small arms and explosives.
 
For the kind of crime the Toulouse killer committed, you don't need a whole lot of weapons training – but you need cold-blooded determination. The brainwashing these men receive in the training camps could certainly help with that.
 
There's also a second scenario – some young men come to Pakistan purely to receive religious training, at first, and then over time get sucked into becoming militants. Still, they usually have a predisposition toward extremism.
 
Most of these camps are today located in north Waziristan province, in tribal areas. Despite pressure from the US, the Pakistani army stays away. The logic is that these militants are not considered hostile to Pakistan, so they leave them alone. From there, it's easy to travel to similar training camps in Afghanistan – the border is porous. The training men receive in Afghanistan is very similar.
 

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