UPDATE : 500 Australian Troops Into Afghanistan In Next Two Weeks
A few months ago, NATO estimated there were likely to be less than 1000 hardcore Taliban or Al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan. But in the past two weeks, British and Canadian NATO troops in particular have been finding the battlefields swarming with fighters. Thousands of fighters, where NATO intelligence had estimated around 900. Where did all these 'new' fighters come from?
You can find an extremely likely explanation to the mystery cited above in this story from the UK Telegraph. Some excerpts :
Pakistan's credibility as a leading ally in the war on terrorism was called into question last night when it emerged that President Pervez Musharraf's government had authorised the release from jail of thousands of Taliban fighters caught fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Five years after American-led coalition forces overthrew the Taliban during Operation Enduring Freedom, United States officials have been horrified to discover that thousands of foreign fighters detained by Pakistan after fleeing the battleground in Afghanistan have been quietly released and allowed to return to their home countries.
Pakistani lawyers acting for the militants claim they have freed 2,500 foreigners who were originally held on suspicion of having links to al-Qa'eda or the Taliban over the past four years.
"We have repeatedly warned Pakistan over arresting and then releasing suspects," said a US diplomat in Islamabad. "We are monitoring their response with great concern."
On the question of whether released militants would return to jihad, Hazrat Aman, a field officer of the al-Khidmat Foundation, said: "If they react like that it is a natural phenomenon. Some of these people spent two to three years in jail. Some of them will live peacefully and others will join jihad again."