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Kabul detains Canadian citizen; 24-year-old man who lived in Calgary allegedly attended militant training camp in Pakistan

(The Globe and Mail) Afghan police have detained a Canadian citizen on suspicion that he attended a militant training camp, sources say, marking the first time in almost five years that a Canadian has been arrested in Afghanistan for possible involvement with the insurgency.  

Police took the young man into custody at a bus station in Kabul within the past few days, sources say, and Afghan authorities continue to hold him for investigation at a compound belonging to the Ministry of Interior. His name was not released, but he was identified as a 24-year-old of Pakistani origin who previously lived in Calgary. He was carrying a Canadian passport at the time of his arrest.  

The Foreign Affairs Department in Ottawa confirmed that a Canadian had been arrested, and said that embassy staff have consular access.  

The man has not been formally charged, but police allege he attended a militant camp in Waziristan, a lawless border region of Pakistan believed to serve as a hideout for Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.  

The bearded man was behaving suspiciously in a way that attracted attention, a source said. “He got off a bus, and he stuck out.”  

The detainee seems to speak at least a little Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, the source said. It’s unlikely he was visiting relatives in Afghanistan because he does not appear to have family in the country.  

A bitter enmity has developed between Pakistan and Afghanistan, as the latter accuses its neighbour of fomenting the Taliban insurgency, and Pakistanis sometimes complain of unfair treatment and profiling by Afghan police.  

Afghan authorities, for their part, say the most fanatical suicide bombers and other insurgents are usually trained in Pakistan’s border areas, beyond the legal reach of Kabul or its NATO allies.  

It has long been acknowledged that Waziristan is a magnet for jihadists. The mountainous region is home to fundamentalist tribes that have provided safe haven to al-Qaeda, Taliban and sundry others who fled the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.  

Pakistan frequently promises it will rein in the restive region, and hundreds of militants have died in recent weeks as the government has flooded Waziristan with thousands of troops. “We are fighting Taliban and al-Qaeda in the mountains of North Waziristan, South Waziristan,” Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told a U.S. interviewer last year.  

The area has been significant for Canada in the past. It was in South Waziristan that the Arab fugitive known to al-Qaeda cohorts and international intelligence agencies as “the Canadian” met his end.  

Pakistani infantry soldiers teamed up with a helicopter gunship crew to hunt down and slay Ahmed Said Khadr and seven others in 2003. Years earlier, Mr. Khadr had moved his family from Canada to Afghanistan, where they once lived in a compound with Osama bin Laden.  

Members of the Khadr family crossed over to Pakistan with al-Qaeda figures after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. A year before the patriarch of the family was killed, then-15-year-old son Omar Khadr was dispatched by his father back toward the front lines, where he was wounded and captured in a deadly Afghan gun battle with U.S. soldiers.  

Omar Khadr has spent the past five years in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, held on charges that he is an enemy combatant who murdered a soldier with a grenade. His trial is set to begin this summer.  

The organizers of the July 7, 2005, London transit bombings that killed 52 people are understood to have attended a terrorist summit in Waziristan before carrying out that attack.  

Last week, a mujahedeen fighter turned Afghan opposition politician told an interviewer with the conservative American Jamestown Foundation think tank that Waziristan “is in flames” and added that “the people of these districts, men and women, are now mostly pro-al-Qaeda.”

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May 11, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror

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