New reports are claiming al-Qaeda’s senior leadership is behind the recent deployment of seasoned jihadists from Pakistan into Syria, and they are part of “long-term plans” that have little to do with Syria itself.
The focus rather is on something else Syria’s civil war has attracted, Western fighters. Jihad-minded fighters with EU or American passports but not much experience have been flocking to Syria to join the Islamist factions there, with over 1,000 on the ground there now.
That’s been a concern for Western officials, and an opportunity for al-Qaeda, which is hoping their better trained fighters in Pakistan can organize and train the Westerners to be sent to launch attacks back in Europe and America, where their passports can get them into places the Pakistanis just can’t go.
Several al-Qaeda factions have seized control of large portions of northern Syria, and the protracted civil war there continues to be a better recruiter than al-Qaeda ever was, allowing them to get access to a lot of Western fighters.