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A triangle of militants regroups in Afghanistan

Intelligence officials say Al Qaeda and Taliban are tied to a radical Islamist party.

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Sana Hamid has come to Pakistan to recruit a few good terrorists.

Not just anyone will do. There are plenty of people in this part of Pakistan who would love to fight American forces in Afghanistan. But Mr. Hamid and his Afghan guerrilla leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, need people with skills that will mesh with their allies - the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

"We are trying to regroup into a force like we were during Afghan Jihad (the Soviet-Afghan war)," says Hamid, a former information official for his party, the Hizb-i Islami. He spoke to the Monitor on condition that neither his location nor his real name would be disclosed.

For months, Afghan and US intelligence officials have warned about a regrouping of Al Qaeda and the Taliban on both sides of the porous Afghan-Pakistani border. More ominous still for the war in Afghanistan is the reported alliance of America's enemies with old friends from the Soviet war, namely the radical Islamist party Hizb-i Islami. Some leaflets signed by Hizb and Taliban leaders have even called on Muslims to join an all-out jihad or holy struggle against American forces timed to the beginning of America's war in Iraq.

"We do not need military training, as even an eight- and 10-year old boy knows how to use a Kalashnikov," Hamid says. "We have suicide squads of Al Qaeda. They are like walking bombs, and they are our biggest weapons against Americans in Afghanistan."

While signs of this regrouping are mostly limited to a scattering of printed leaflets and a few fiery speeches in local mosques, Afghan officials say an alliance of these three groups may present the greatest security challenge to the fragile transitional government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and to the American forces who remain behind to keep the peace.


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