Zarqawi targets Europe for terror
The most wanted terrorist in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is recruiting cell members in Britain and Europe.
Terrorism experts believe his is preparing his new recruits for attacks somewhere in Europe.
Zarqawi, who has a reward of $US25million ($33 million) on his head, is also thought to be using Europeans for his terror campaign against the US forces in Iraq.
Rohan Gunaratna, one of the world's leading al-Qa'ida experts with access to official intelligence, said the Jordanian terrorist was an increasing threat.
"He is the biggest recruiter in Europe," Dr Gunaratna, head of the terror unit at Singapore's Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, said last week. "He has become better known among extremists in Britain and Europe, and his group is becoming very multinational."
Between 150 and 200 European recruits are estimated to have entered Iraq, usually through Syria or Iran.
Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for a series of beheadings in Iraq, most recently the killing of British hostage Kenneth Bigley.
A western intelligence official said: "The new land of jihad is Iraq. There, they are trained, they fight and acquire a technique and the indoctrination sufficient to act on when they return."
An Iraqi resistance leader told The Sunday Times in September that three Britons were part of the beheading gang that seized Bigley, a Liverpudlian.
Abu Muawiya, who spent eight months in Zarqawi's Tawhid wal Jihad group, said the Britons were among "a handful of non-Arab foreigners" who had joined Zarqawi after being recommended by clerics abroad.
German authorities this month arrested three Iraqis with links to Zarqawi on suspicion of planning an attack on US-appointed Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi during his visit to the country.
Intelligence officers are also detecting new recruiting networks in eastern Europe and the Balkans, where Muslims from poorer communities are being sponsored to fight in Iraq. Terrorism experts agreed at a Washington conference this month that Europe was likely to be the target of the next big Islamic terrorist attack.
(The Sunday Times, AP, AFP, December 13, 2004)