Attack occurred in Karachi just prior to President Bush’s visit; Pakistan releases details on new al Qaeda leader plotting attacks on U.S.
al Qaeda has mastered the art of dramatic and devastating propaganda operations. Today, al Qaeda has struck in Pakistan, just in time for President Bush’s visit to the country. A U.S Diplomat and three others were killed, and fifty-two others were wounded after a vehicle-borne suicide bomber drove into the diplomatic convoy near the U.S. Consulate in Karachi. The Associated Press describes the carnage: “The blast near the U.S. Consulate and the Marriott Hotel propelled cars into the air and flung charred wreckage as far as 200 yards. It shattered windows at the consulate and on all 10 floors of the hotel, and damaged a nearby naval hospital.”
The U.S. Consulate and the Marriott hotel are side by side, with the Consulate being the northern building. The suicide bomber waited in the back alley for about a half hour, and struck the SUV as it was entering the compound at the security checkpoint on the street between the hotel and the Consulate. The blast was massive, and is said to have left a six foot crater in the street, and hurled the three-ton armored SUV carrying the U.S. diplomat over a ten foot concrete barrier into the parking lot of the hotel. [Post updated with correct map.]
The strike comes directly on the heels of news that a Pakistani al Qaeda operative named Matiur Rehman is planning “an attack against the United States.” Alexis Debat, a counterterrorism analyst and consult, describes Rehman as “Pakistan’s most wanted right now… He is extremely dangerous because of his role as the crucial interface between the brains of al Qaeda and its muscle, which is mainly composed these days of Pakistani militants.” While Pakistan did not indicate if the attacks were to be conducted against U.S. soil or interests overseas, there is a high likelihood Rehman is connected to today’s suicide bombing.
The deadly attack occurs as Pakistan is conducting an offensive in Waziristan against “foreign miscreants”. The Pakistani Army reports up to forty-five foreign fighters have been killed during the assault, and Dan Darling believes the Chechen al Qaeda leader cryptically referred to “Imam” is actually “Daniar, a Chechen rebel leader allied with al Qaeda who commanded the group’s forces in their largely successful battle against the Pakistani military in 2004.”