*Â WASHINGTON: The United States is lining up billions of dollars in new economic and military aid to Pakistan despite reports that Islamabad is using American tax-payer money for deals with the Taliban and accounts of US arms ending up in the hands of the extremists.Â
THOUSANDS of British-born Muslims have joined the Taliban in Afghanistan.
UK troops say they are facing a mini civil war as more Brits head out to fight for the enemy.Â
Senior officers said British-born Muslims from the West Midlands and Yorkshire have travelled to Helmand province and other parts of southern Afghanistan.
Interception of Taliban communications has revealed the sound of jihadists speaking with West Midlands accents.
One senior military source said: “It is the Punjabi and Kashmiri Urdu speakers who fall back into English in, for example, Brummie accents.
“You get the impression they have been told not to talk in English but sometimes can’t help it.”
Brigadier Ed Butler, the former commander of the British forces in Afghan-istan, said: “There are British passport holders who live in the UK who are being found in places such as Kandahar.”
Robert Emerson, a security analyst, added: “There is ample evidence British Muslims trained in camps in Pakistan.
“What is emerging now is a picture of them being more active in Afghanistan, either providing support and logistics or in active service.”
The US has stepped up surveillance inside Pakistan.
They believe the UK is not doing enough to curb radical Muslims.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer, chairman of the Commons’ sub-committee on anti-terrorism, which has been examining the activities of British Muslim extremists, said: “We know the problem we have with UK-based jihadists.Â
“With the UK intelligence services at full stretch, it is not surprising some of theseÂ ended up in Afghanistan.”
MI5 has revealed that British Muslims with Somali roots have started fighting with al-Qaida-backed forces in the African country.
One 21-year-old suicide bomber brought up in Ealing, west London, recently killed 20 others when he blew himself up in a Somali town.******
Insurgency pits Brits against BritsÂ Â
British forces in Afghanistan are fighting fellow Britons who have joined the Taleban.
British soldiers are engaged in “a surreal mini-civil war” with growing numbers of home-grown jihadists who have travelled to Afghanistan to support the Taleban, say senior Army officers.
Interceptions of Taleban communications have shown that British jihadists – some “speaking with West Midlands accents” – are active in Helmand and other parts of southern Afghanistan, according to briefing papers prepared by an official security agency.
The document says the numbers of young British Muslims, “seemingly committed jihadists”, travelling abroad to commit extremist violence has been rising, with Pakistan and Somalia the most frequent destinations.
MI5 reckoned up to 4000 British Muslims had travelled to Pakistan and, before the fall of the Taleban, to Afghanistan for military training. The main concern until now has been about the role of some in terrorist plots in Britain.
Now there are signs they are mounting missions against British and Western targets abroad.
“We are now involved in a kind of surreal mini-British civil war a few thousand miles away,” said one Army officer.
Somalia is also becoming a destination for British Muslims of Somali extraction who have started fighting alongside al Qaeda-backed Islamist forces.
A 21-year-old Briton of Somali extraction, brought up in Ealing, west London, recently blew himself up in the town of Baidoa, killing 20 people.
MI5 head Jonathan Evans has raised the worrying issue of British citizens being indoctrinated in Somalia and Michael Hayden, the outgoing head of the CIA, said the conflict in the Horn of Africa had “catalysed” expatriate Somalis in the West.
But it is in Afghanistan that British forces are now directly facing fellow Britons on the other side.
RAF Nimrod aircraft flying over Afghanistan at up to 12,000m have been picking up Taleban electronic “chatter” in which voices can be heard in West Midlands and Yorkshire accents.
This has risen in the past few months, with ground and air surveillance picking up the presence of more British voices in the Taleban front line. The numbers are shown to be dozens rather than hundreds, but the pattern of involvement is described as a cause for concern.
Some of the British Muslims had trained in Pakistan to commit attacks in Kashmir. But security sources say the rising threat of Indian retribution, especially after the Mumbai attacks, has led to the Pakistani Government curbing the activities of the Kashmiri separatist groups, so the fighters are being switched to Afghanistan.
Last week on a visit to Helmand, British Foreign Secretary David Milliband was shown Taleban explosive devices containing British-made electronic components.
They ranged from remote-control units used to fly model airplanes to advanced components which could detonate bombs at a range of more than 1.6km.
The United States, which has significantly stepped up its surveillance inside Pakistan as part of a more aggressive policy, is said to have raised the issue of the Pakistan connection, complaining Britain is not doing enough to curb radical Muslims.
The US pointed out that this threatens their own security because British passport holders can get into the US under the visa waiver programme.
CHATTER TAKES ON A FAMILIAR ACCENT
* The numbers of young British Muslims travelling abroad to commit extremist violence is reportedly rising.
* MI5 has estimated that up to 4000 British Muslims have travelled to Pakistan and, before the fall of the Taleban, to Afghanistan for training.
* RAF Nimrod aircraft flying over Afghanistan have been picking up Taleban electronic “chatter” in which voices can be heard in West Midlands and Yorkshire accents.
* Evidence of British Muslims fighting inside Afghanistan and training in insurgent camps in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas has been provided to the British authorities by United States officials, who believe Britain is not doing enough to curb radical Muslims.