I all stillhet får terrorgruppen Jaish e Muhammad lov til å operere i byen Bahawalpur i Punjab, langt fra grensen til grenseområdene. Myndighetene lar grupper som planlegger terror mot fiender utlands være i fred.

Jaish e Mohammad har spilt en nøkkelrolle i flere store terroranslag, blant annet sto de bak angrepet på den indiske nasjonalforsamlingen i desember 2001. Ahmed Rashid tilhører gruppen, han formidlet kontakt mellom Al Qaida og gruppen som planla å sprenge ni transatlantiske fly med flytende sprengstoff i mineralvannsflasker. Omar Sheik som sto for henrettelsen av Daniel Pearl tilhørte også Jaish e. Det samme gjorde en av de britiske selvmordsbomberne som sprengte seg selv i lufta 7/7 2005, Shazad Tanweer.

Jaish e Muhammad har allerede sitt hovedkvarter i sentrum, men har den senere tid fått kjøpe rundt 20 mål i utkanten av byen hvor de nå bygger et senter bak høye murer. Inskripsjoner og hemmelighold tyder på at det er en treningsleir. Myndighetene løfter ikke en finger. De har foretatt en inspeksjon og kjøper versjonen om at det er en farm for feavl.

De amerikanske dronene gjør tilværelsen i grenseområdene utrygg. I Bahawalpur kan de trygt hvilke ut. Madrassaene forsyner gruppen med rekrutter.

Jaish, which the State Department designated a «foreign terrorist organization» in December 2001 and Pakistan banned in 2002, already has a headquarters and a seminary in the town’s center. However, the new facility, surrounded by a high brick and mud wall, has a tiled swimming pool, stabling for more than a dozen horses, an ornamental fountain and even swings and a slide for children.

There are jihadist inscriptions painted on the inside walls, including a proclamation that «Jaish-e-Mohammad will return», alongside a picture of Delhi’s historic Red Fort , implying further terrorist attacks against the Indian capital.

Riding is symbolically appealing for jihadists, who romanticize about riding into battle on horseback. Another inscription inside the compound says, in Urdu, «When God was about to create horses, he told the wind: ‘I’m going to create a creature which will help my friends and bring disaster to my enemies.'»

These warriors also consider water training important, especially as most Pakistanis cannot swim. After the attack on Mumbai last year, it emerged that the terrorists had undertaken extensive water training.

Bahawalpur also serves as a safe «R&R» stopover for jihadists battling in Afghanistan , Western intelligence officers said. In Bahawalpur, militants can rest and recuperate away from the U.S. unmanned aerial drones that patrol Pakistan’s tribal area in the northwest.

Extremist groups in Pakistan are interlinked, and members often move among different groups. Bahawalpur and the surrounding area are important centers for other militant organizations in addition to Jaish-e-Mohammad, including Lashkar-e- Taiba , the group blamed for the devastating 2008 attack on Mumbai ; Sipah-e-Sahaba, a sectarian group linked to the killing of seven Christians last month in the Punjabi town of Gojra; and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is perhaps al Qaida’s closest ally in Pakistan .

Although there’s a major Pakistani army base in Bahawalpur, the bases of Jaish and other jihadist groups in and around the town attract little attention. The regional administration is aware of the new compound but untroubled by it. According to the senior police official for the area, Mushtaq Sukhera , it’s been «thoroughly searched» and nothing suspicious has been found.

Sukhera denied that there’s any extremist threat in the town and said that while Jaish owns the new facility, «there’s nothing over there except a few cows and horses.»

«There is no problem of militancy (in south Punjab), there’s no problem of Talibanization,» said Sukhera. «It’s just media hype.»

Between 3,000 and 8,000 jihadists from southern Punjab are fighting in Afghanistan or Pakistan’s western tribal area, according to independent estimates, said Ayesha Siddiqa , an analyst who’s studied the area. They’re often known as the «Punjabi Taliban,» while the main Taliban forces are ethnic Pashtuns, the group that straddles northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan .

Holder lav profil

Jaish e Mohammad driver ikke den talibanisering av omgivelsene som man gjør i grenseområdene. Når man hører at det finnes mellom 500-1.000 madrassaer bare i denne byen, forstår man omfanget av den religiøse fanatismen og ekstremismen. Når myndighetene i tillegg lukker øynene, har de plantet frøet til Pakistans destruksjon.

Det er en type utpressing som det er svært vanskelig for utlandet å gjøre noe med. Skal de overta et land med 167 millioner innbyggere?

Bahawalpur, which is about 420 miles south of the capital Islamabad , is a dusty, dirt-poor backwater that’s sweltering in summer. The town’s isolation allows it to function quietly as a center for ideological indoctrination and terrorist planning, a sort of jihadist oasis surrounded by parched fields.

There are at least 500 madrassas In Bahawalpur — more than 1,000 by some estimates — many of which teach a violent version of Islam to children who mostly are too poor to go to regular school. Promising students are dispatched to military training camps, which generally are located in far off northwestern Pakistan .

Unlike Pakistan’s Taliban in the northwest, however, extremists in Bahawalpur keep a low profile. They leave alone the music shops and barbers that are the Taliban’s favorite targets and don’t force women to wear the all-enveloping burqa, so there’s no obvious «Talibanization,» as in parts of northwest Pakistan .

Artikkelen i McClatchy viser at man ikke skal dømme radikaliseringen bare utfra hendelsene i Swat og Waziristan.


Terror group builds big base under Pakistani officials’ noses