Suicide squads trained in Pakistan by al-Qaida

Friday, December 13, 2002

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Suicide squads are being trained in Pakistan by al-Qaida operatives to hit targets in Afghanistan and the bombers' families are being promised $50,000, say Afghan and Pakistani sources.

The Pakistani government denies the presence of camps here. "Nobody will ever be able to either hide here or establish training camps in Pakistan," said Interior Ministry spokesman Iftikar Ahmed.

But privately, some officials in Pakistan's intelligence community and Interior Ministry say they believe there is such bomb training and that it is protected by Pakistani militants and Taliban sympathizers in the Pakistan military.

The nephew of Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the Taliban's No. 3 man, says the training camps are in Bajour and Mansehra, towns in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province where support for the former Afghan regime runs strong.

The nephew asked that his name not be used, saying he feared retaliation from both the Taliban and Pakistanis. He said he agreed to an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday because he believes suicide bombing is wrong. He also seemed interested in getting U.S. attention and possibly a reward.

During two weeks of training, would-be bombers are told by Arab instructors that they are waging war on the Jews and "will be martyrs and go straight to heaven and their family will get $50,000," Kabir's nephew said.

They are trained in small groups and not all are told they must die, he said. Some are taught to detonate bombs by remote control, and to drive explosives-laden trucks into Afghanistan, he said.

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