Afghan, Pak­istan Shi­ite Mus­lims are re­cruited

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - NATION+WORLD -

ISLAMABAD » Thou­sands of Shi­ite Mus­lims from Afghanistan and Pak­istan are be­ing re­cruited by Iran to fight with Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad’s forces in Syria, lured by prom­ises of hous­ing, a monthly salary of up to $600 and the pos­si­bil­ity of em­ploy­ment in Iran when they re­turn, say coun­tert­er­ror­ism of­fi­cials and an­a­lysts.

Th­ese fight­ers, who have re­ceived pub­lic praise from Iran’s supreme leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, even have their own bri­gades, but coun­tert­er­ror­ism of­fi­cials in both coun­tries worry about the may­hem they might cause when they re­turn home to coun­tries al­ready wrestling with a ma­jor mil­i­tant prob­lem.

Amir Toumaj, Iran re­search an­a­lyst at the U.S.based Foun­da­tion for the De­fense of Democ­ra­cies, said the num­ber of fight­ers is fluid but as many as 6,000 Afghans are fight­ing for As­sad, while the num­ber of Pak­ista­nis, who fight un­der the ban­ner of the Zain­abay­oun Bri­gade, is in the hun­dreds.

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