Where in Pakistan did Faisal Shahzad learn bomb-making skills?
Jihadi training camps in Pakistan – like the one Times Square car bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad said he attended – have taught bombmaking and other skills to militants since the 1980s.
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"We are not necessarily talking about permanent structures that the military is missing or drones aren't seeing. We are talking about much smaller and mobile facilities," says Stephen Tankel, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "A camp can be where you are using a school house, and class is in session and we are teaching you to build a bomb today."Skip to next paragraph
Camps can even spring up in areas surprisingly close to civilians.
Lawmaker Faiza Rasheed told the Monitor last year she had stumbled on militants training in an abandoned factory outside her home city of Haripur, a town in the heartland Punjab Province. She said she recognized various drills, such as hurling large stones, from her own days training at a camp in Afghanistan. A local official told the Monitor on the condition of anonymity that the military had known about the camp, now defunct, and that it had been involved in training militants to fight in Kashmir.
Drills, raids, and explosives training
One Punjabi militant told the Monitor last November about his time training in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir in the early 1990s. Saeen Dilawar, a Punjabi militant belonging to another group, Hizb-ut-Mujahideen, said the camp was backed by the country's premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence.
"We were divided according to our strengths. So those who would shoot well were given more weapons training, some concentrated on explosives," he said. All "cadets" were given basic hand-to-hand combat training and taught how to swim – a rare skill in Pakistan.
Though some analysts believe Pakistan's military establishment has given up a direct involvement in training camps, the militants have demonstrated before that they have learned their lessons well.
In a set of video CDs obtained by the Monitor from the northern town of Mingora in February 2009, prior to an Army operation to clear the area of the Taliban, militants dressed in khakis took part in weapon-loading drills, performed somersaults, and conducted mock raids on buildings.
In another scene, members of the Taliban smiled while preparing car bombs, compressing a white explosive powder with their bare feet before loading it into a small Suzuki Mehran.
Mr. Tankel notes that showing trainees how to use explosives is much simpler than teaching them how to construct a bomb. The device that Shahzad is accused of planting in Times Square failed to detonate and used nonexplosive fertilizer, among other ingredients.
"Wherever he got his training, it wasn't great quality," says Hussein.
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