According to Russian high-ranking military officials, several hundreds of ethnic Chechens, 3,000-4,000 ethnic Arabs, and about 5,000-7,000 ethnic Pakistani are now fighting with the Taliban side against the Northern Alliance and U.S. Special Forces. The total number of the Taliban forces is 70,000 people, an informed source close to the Russian Ministry of Defence told RIA Novosti. The source said that with the start of the U.S. anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan, the flow of terrorists, arms, and finances from Afghanistan to Chechnya has practically ceased. This flow started to operate in the opposite direction. Information exists that rebels and foreign mercenaries in Chechnya are planning on going to Afghanistan in a very near future and helping the Taliban, the RIA Novosti source stressed. The source stated that ethnic Arabs comprise the majority of the group headed by Dzhuma Namangani, a leader of the extremist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. At the moment, he heads the so-called Takhar Front, which it fighting against the Northern Alliance in the provinces of Takhar, Samangan, and Balh.
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.