- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 28, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan A murky network of smugglers, politicians and spies is moving money to Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives, slipping their operatives out of the region and ferrying others in, according to intelligence officials and a former Taliban commander.
Several al Qaeda men have left Afghanistan for Algeria in recent days, Fazul Rabi Said Rahman, a former Taliban corps commander, told the Associated Press in an interview Tuesday. A European intelligence source says others are slipping quietly into the region, and the numbers are on the increase.
"If you have money you can go anywhere without any problem," Said Rahman said.
Another former Taliban official, who spoke on the condition his name or rank not be used, said several al Qaeda fugitives were smuggled out of Afghanistan in recent weeks. They were taken out through Pakistan's Tirah Valley, a remote region ringed by towering peaks.
The Tirah Valley neighbors Tora Bora in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, the scene of some of the fiercest bombing in the U.S.-led coalition's war on terror.
The man who is said to have helped them escape, an al Qaeda sympathizer named Anwarul Haq Mujahed, himself eluded capture this month.
American and Afghan special forces in search of Mujahed also raided his father's farm in Farmada, according to Haji Zaman Khan, an ally of the U.S.-led coalition during last December's assault on Tora Bora.
The farm, a well-known refuge for al Qaeda members during and after the Taliban rule, was bombed several times during the U.S.-led coalition's campaign.
Mujahed's father, Maulvi Yunus Khalis, was a U.S.-backed commander during the 1980s war against the Soviet occupiers in Afghanistan. He swore allegiance to the Northern Alliance government, but Taliban members in hiding say he has remained close to his onetime al Qaeda friends.
"Mujahed helped at least 100 of the al Qaeda men who wanted to escape Afghanistan," Mr. Zaman Khan said. "Just in the last month, I know he helped some escape."
Before U.S. Special Forces could locate him, Mujahed was spirited out of Nangarhar province, through Dar-e-Nur in eastern Afghanistan, to Laghman province and then to Kabul. From there, he was flown aboard an Afghan Ariana flight to Pakistan's border city Peshawar, assisted along the way by men loyal to his father.
The former Taliban commander, Said Rahman, said several al Qaeda men have left for Algeria in recent weeks. It was not clear whether they were the same men spirited out by Mujahed.
While some al Qaeda men are moving out of the region, others are coming in, say European intelligence sources. They are bringing money with them, helped by smugglers and traders, according to the intelligence officials.
The network that allows the traffic to flow virtually unhindered is believed to include Pakistani militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed Pakistani intelligence and even the upper echelon of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, one of the key partners in a religious coalition that rules Pakistan's strategic North West Frontier Province and which holds considerable sway in southwestern Baluchistan province.
"We are happy that our brothers are in power here. We expect it will be even easier," Said Rahman said.
He said many top Taliban members in hiding including No. 3 man Maulvi Abdul Kabir and former Interior Minister Abdul Razzak move particularly freely in Baluchistan province.

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