US sees Pakistani Taliban involvement in Times Square attack after downplaying links


Four days after the failed car bombing attack in New York City's Times Square, senior officials in the Obama administration have grudgingly begun to accept that the Pakistani Taliban are likely involved in the plot.

Obama administration officials said today that there "strong indications" that Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-born naturalized American citizen "knew some members" of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, The New York Times reported.

"Somebody's financially sponsoring him, and that's the link we're pursuing," an administration official told The New York Times, noting that Shahzad received money from Dubai to purchase the Nissan Pathfinder used in the failed attack and his one-way airline ticket to Pakistan following the attack. "And that would take you on the logic train back to Pak-Taliban authorizations."

The administration's admission that Shahzad and the attempted bombing link back to Pakistan marks a departure from its early view that the attack was likely a purely domestic incident. One day after the attack, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano described the attack as a "one-off" and "amateurish," and over the next two days administration officials continued to downplay or deny possible links to international terror groups, despite early clues suggesting such involvement.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was more direct and put the blame on domestic terrorists. "If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that, somebody who's homegrown, maybe a mentally deranged person or someone with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something, it could be anything," Bloomberg told CBS News.

Evidence of link to the Pakistani Taliban was available in the first 24 hours

But evidence that the Pakistani Taliban may have played a role in the attack emerged almost immediately after firefighters and police dismantled the crudely-made bomb in Times Square on the evening of May 1. On the morning of May 2, a person who claimed to be from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel notified The Long War Journal that an audiotape of Taliban commander Qari Hussain Mehsud was posted on a YouTube site. The email was titled "Qari Hussain Mehsud from Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan accepts the responsibility of recent Attack on Times Square Newyork USA."

On the video, Qari Hussain, who is a master bomb maker and trainer of suicide bombers for the Taliban, said the attack was launched to avenge the deaths of top terrorist leaders, punish the US for conducting Predator airstrikes in Pakistan's tribal areas, and avenge the arrest and detention of Pakistani scientist Aifa Siddique.

"This attack is a revenge for the great & valuable martyred leaders of mujahideen," Qari Hussain said. He listed Baitullah Mehsud, the former leader of the Pakistani Taliban who was killed in a Predator strike in August 2009, and Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the former leader of al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq who was killed by Iraqi forces in mid-April.

US authorities clearly were aware of the Qari Hussain video, and had the video pulled from YouTube within hours after the The Long War Journal received the email notification of its existence.

On the evening of May 2, the Taliban spokesman sent The Long War Journal another email that pointed to the location of an audio tape and a video tape of Hakeemullah Mehsud, the top commander of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The email was titled "Hakeemullah Mehsud is Alive and Healthy and Delivering news about Attacks on USA." The audio and video tapes were produced in April. On the tapes, Hakeemullah denied the multiple reports of his death and threatened the US with further attacks.

"The time is very near when our fedayeen will attack the American states in their major cities," Hakeemullah said. "And Inshallah (god willing) we will give extremely painful blows to the fanatic America."

The videos were difficult to dismiss, as the timing of the release of the tapes is significant. Ordinarily, the Taliban and al Qaeda have a long lead time, often one to two weeks, from the recording to the release of their tapes.

But more importantly, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel website on which the Qari Hussain tape appeared was created on April 30, just one day prior to the attack. The Qari Hussain tape was also uploaded on April 30. US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal on May 2 said they believed that the website was created expressly for the purpose of claiming credit for the Times Square attack.

Other pieces of evidence also emerged within the first few days that directly linked Shahzad to Pakistan and the Taliban. The night that Shahzad was arrested, US intelligence contacted by The Long War Journal said they believed he had spent time in al Qaeda or Taliban training camps in North Waziristan.

The next day, on May 4, the criminal complaint filed by US attorneys against Shahzad stated that he admitted "he had recently received bomb-making training in Waziristan, Pakistan." A report from Pakistan indicated that he may have also trained at a camp in Kohat near Peshawar. Another report indicated that Shahzad had met with Qari Hussain.

Also on May 4, reports surfaced that two of Shahzad's friends with links to the al Qaeda and Taliban-friendly Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group were detained in Karachi, Pakistan.

But as much as the information that was available to the public showed a direct connection to Pakistan, the information gathered by the FBI and New York City Police Department during the investigation immediately after the failed bombing should also have pointed to Pakistan, and by default a link to one of the multitude of al Qaeda-linked terror groups based there. Shahzad's status as a newly naturalized citizen from Pakistan, his family ties to Pakistan's northwest, his recent return from a five-month trip there, his phone calls to and from Pakistan, and other evidence should have raised alarm bells during the investigation.

The reasons for the administration's decision to quickly discount a foreign connection remain unclear, but the end result was that partisans feuded over phantom domestic terrorists while the Taliban accepted responsibility.



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READER COMMENTS: "US sees Pakistani Taliban involvement in Times Square attack after downplaying links "

Posted by Jimmy at May 6, 2010 7:05 AM ET:

Excellent analytical article about how the Pakistani STATE is the main cause of global terrorism:

http://news.rediff.com/column/2010/may/06/rajeev-srinivasan-on-the-banality-of-evil.htm

Posted by Andrew R. at May 6, 2010 7:28 AM ET:

The link to Pakistan draws an even greater question: why was the bomb so incompetent? The various Taliban groups based in Waziristan have been able to launch some really vicious and professional attacks throughout Pakistan and India. So why was this one such a damp squib?

Posted by uncle tony at May 6, 2010 8:22 AM ET:

What a shame. They are accepting the truth for what it is and not the twisted bs they wanted us to believe.

Posted by gfgwgc at May 6, 2010 9:09 AM ET:

The Obama administration has yet to realize that the well from which these jihadi recruits can be drawn is both wide and deep. Those who can fight the infidels by crossing a land or a sea border will do so and those that can get on a plane and reach more distant targets will also do so. An attack on the US, even a failed attempt, is a huge prize and morale booster for the rank and file.

There is little point in fighting the jihadis on the frontier when known masterminds of previous attacks and their organizations are free to exist elsewhere in Pakistan. Jihadis are not especially beholden to just one infidel enemy or just one cause. Rationality is not the strongest sit of those driven by hate, religious fervor or years of indoctrination.

The US strategy against terrorism has to be far more comprehensive and the Pakistani cooperation has to be far more sincere. Right now, neither is the case.

Posted by Al at May 6, 2010 9:12 AM ET:

Does Napolitano yet realize we are in a war for the survival of Western civilization?

Yet, many in MSM were hoping it was a T-Party link. Bloomberg, what a disgrace.

Posted by Lorenz Gude at May 6, 2010 9:36 AM ET:

The network is faster than government or any industrial age institution. It seems clear that the Taliban posted before the actual bombing if I read Bill's accounts correctly and the government still thinks it can can control the narrative. (I mean this quite independent of who is in power or how particular governments try to control the narrative.) Just like MSM reporters they have not realized that they are just another node on a network. It appears that Bill understand this well, and it is clear that the Taliban do or they wouldn't have sent him an email!

Posted by Kevin at May 6, 2010 10:13 AM ET:

Comment removed for violating the site policy on political attacks.

Posted by No Shura Thing at May 6, 2010 10:57 AM ET:

Let's try to focus on the important international issues at hand, and take the holier-than-thou teabaggery and boilerplate Obama-bashing to sites like Politico, which were made for such biased pontificating, shall we?

Long War Journal is not the place for this nonsense.

Posted by No Shura Thing at May 6, 2010 11:00 AM ET:

And by the way, gfgwgc, my post is *not* referring to your measured, well reasoned post.

Posted by pedestrian at May 6, 2010 11:00 AM ET:

What I do not feel easy is that the terror attack was too amateur lacking secureness and planning. In earlier years, Al Qaida terrorism had a DNA and strategy to target infrastructure and transit systems to cause large numbers of casualties. First bombing of WTC attempted to collapse the building, and the next be aircraft, attempts to destroy th tunnel around NYC, attempts to attack the subway system. Previous attacks had potentials to kill more than hundreds, but the recent attack was planned very poor, lacking the knwoledge of bomb making, lacking secureness to keep the suspect out of notice from public. However, what is suprising the most is that this was not a suicide attack which Al Qaida has favored.

Posted by Ant at May 6, 2010 11:05 AM ET:

Lorenz:
I think that the reason the video was posted early was because of time difference. I am sure that they knew a timeframe when the incident was going to occur so they ended up posting the video at that time in their time zone, just a confusion on their part. It's similar to the Palestinians who were going to set off a bomb in Israel but had their clocks off by one hour killing them before even reaching their target. These are instances we need to be watching out for, simple mistakes.
.

Posted by ArneFufkin at May 6, 2010 11:52 AM ET:

@No Shura Thing: So we should not comment on the measures this Administration takes/neglects in protecting our Homeland from these Islamist thugs? Barack Obama, if you hadn't heard, is currently President (CEO and Chief LEO) of the United States and Commander in Chief of our American military. Is he above scrutiny? The reflexive bashing is in your imagination.

This is a serious breach of security that needs to be investigated and analyzed or next time it's gonna be our streets littered with the carnage of limbs and blood strewn about everywhere.

Posted by kp at May 6, 2010 12:17 PM ET:

The reason the official came out and said, initially, that this looked like a domestic terrorism attack is because the MO looks like a domestic terrorist attack.

1. Not a suicide attack. List all the other non-suicide attacks from Islamists in the USA. First WTC was the only one. Even the Fort Hood attacker was just lucky to survive. Same outside of the USA.

2. Incompetent bomb design. The device didn't work and actually had no chance of working (wrong fertilizer). That's not very AQ.

3. No current intelligence warning for an attack.

4. Perhaps putting too much faith in the "white guy changing his T-shirt" on video. Maybe. Maybe not.

It probably would have been better to stick to the facts and just say they don't know if this is domestic or foreign but they overspoke. It can happen to people in charge when they don't have enough information but they're asked to be unambiguous.

The flip side of this is the other commentators on this forum saying the attack is "obviously TTP" because they released a video claiming an attack before it happened. Of course TTP also claimed the Binghamton Shooting that they had nothing to do with so taking that non-specific claim before the fact is just as big an error as the officials made. It seems whatever your preferred bias determines how you view this rather than any real evidence.

@Ant: I think assuming the TTP don't know about time-zones is a little parochial. They aren't idiots. How about the alternative explaination that they prefer to taunt the US before the attack without giving too much warning or specifics? That fits HM's mental state rather better. This of course leaves them in an interesting position with such a badly failed attack: do they claim credit for it and show FS training videos. Or do they deny responsibility for the failure?

The cited NYT article also contains one piece missing from my previous posts: how did they get his name and ID so quickley from the prepaid cellphone info? On page 2 we get the answer -- he made another simple mistake:

One number that he had provided when he last entered the United States, in February, was stored in a Customs and Border Protection database. It turned out to match a number on the list of calls to and from a prepaid cellphone that investigators knew belonged to the purchaser of the S.U.V. found on Times Square. Only when they matched the phone numbers did investigators learn "that that was the guy we were looking for," said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the investigation.

Again this is terrible tradecraft. He didn't even think to get more than one prepaid phone to try to partition his communications. Or to limit communications to outside of the country (i.e. calling home) until after the attack (or perhaps not at all). Or to buy a (return) airplane ticket in advance for just a few hours after the attack so that he would stay ahead of the FBI. This late buying of the ticket made me think this was a suicide attack that he failed to complete. But perhaps not? Did he back out of a follow up (suicide) attack when he knew his bomb design was faulty? The FBI picked up some fertilizer and fireworks at his home in CT. Or was that really it and he planned to leave after the Time Square attack? I guess as they talk to him they'll find out more. And they'll follow the links where it takes them in the US and Pakistan.

You can see there are more questions than answers.

And I agree with "No Shura Thing" that the knee-jerk Teabaggery/Democrat-bashing here is tedious and doesn't get us anywhere nearer to understanding what is happening.

Posted by Dan at May 6, 2010 12:31 PM ET:

Nice Analysis KP, well thought out, I enjoyed reading it.

Posted by ArneFufkin at May 6, 2010 1:03 PM ET:

kp, perhaps your use of the inelegant term "teabaggery" reveals more about your partisan political agenda than those here who might see a red flag in the reflexive conclusion that the perp was a lone wolf 40 something white male who "may have opposed Obamacare" as the mayor of the targeted city and the obsequious liberal media immediately speculated?

I want to know why Faizal Shahzad was taken off a Homeland Security travel lookout list in 2009 as reported by CBS News. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-20004263-10391695.html) Why was an individual who was under suspicion naturalized and permitted to spend 5 months in Pakistan without any scrutiny?

Obama is President, kp and No Shura Thing, and whether or not it is inconvenient politically for you to acknowledge, his Administration is accountable for protecting the homeland as we have suffered four Islamist-inspired attacks in the last 12 months.

Moreover, when this Administration spends their capital demonizing Tea Party rallies and Arizonans who wish to keep foreign criminal miscreants from crossing the borders unfettered, it leads one to wonder about their priorities and just exactly whom they consider the enemy and the premier threat to our American state and people. If you cannot acknowledge and identify your lethal enemy you have no chance to defeat your lethal enemy.

Posted by amagi at May 6, 2010 1:15 PM ET:

I just want to add one more voice to the chorus to say that in the administration's defense it takes time to establish credible links and it is perfectly reasonable for them to have something approximating certainty before they go to press.

It has been four days since the attempt, which I think is a perfectly acceptable time frame for them to gather evidence before making a declaration.

Better they wait than lose credibility by pointing at the wrong party... and have their credibility questioned in the future.

Posted by Rosario at May 6, 2010 1:19 PM ET:

The faulty execution of the bombing plot, announcement video of a non-event may be an indication of fragmented training, and less effective command/control network. Perhaps those drone attacks and pressure from the Pakistani army had an affect on taliban operations. They will try harder next time, more pressure on their operations is required.

Posted by DUMB FARMER at May 6, 2010 1:45 PM ET:

KP: Actually AQ and the Tban have demonstrated plenty of incompetence and stupidity at times and they have been recipients of substantial expertise from outside (the CIA a few decades ago, Iran, ISI and Syria among others more recently).

Actually a good part of the TTP are in fact idiots by most means of estimation as are a large portion those who embrace reactionary 13th century religious dogma.

I expect your analysis may be flawed in another way in that your primary conclusion that this was not a suicide attack. Is there definitive evidence released of which I am not aware that this clown did not attempt to detonate at the scene? Was his air ticket not purchased post-fizzle?

The real disappointment in your analysis is you seem to grant the jihad-by-terror crowd with some great credit for organization and competence when in fact accomplishing the senseless, vicious indescriminate murder of entirely innocent bystanders requires little more than a willingness to propogate evil for no discernable reason. I could train a cow to do it - if I could find a cow that was evil selfish and cowardly enough.

Posted by Bill Roggio at May 6, 2010 2:04 PM ET:

Let's put a break on the political back & forth. This is clearly a contentiousness issue and I can understand the frustrations from all parties.

I failed in my duty to properly moderate the comments on this thread and apologize. I have been a little more busy that usual so moderating the comments has suffered. Please help me out by thinking twice before hitting that publish button. I will be in your debt.

Thank you and again my apologies.

Posted by Neo at May 6, 2010 2:06 PM ET:

With respect to Afghanistan policy, the only major beef I have with the Obama Administration is the 2011 date to start pulling out. Other than that, the policy, so far, is about the same as proscribed by the defense establishment and that of the former administration. So please save the Obama bashing for other places, unless it directly applies to the topic at hand.

It also seems, some of you would rather be at war with Pakistan, rather than continue on with the current, often questionable, cooperation. Good choice there guy's! We sure need more enemies right now. Some people in the comment section seem to think we can start carpet bombing parts of Pakistan without serious repercussions. I might suggest, for those that think that way, that they can vent their frustrations any way they please, but in doing so they are no longer part of serious debate on policy. I might also suggest that the only reason we are allowed to stay in LANDLOCKED Afghanistan is that other countries in the region (including many Pakistani's) aren't too keen on having the Taliban hosting their world wide Jihad through their countries.

In a major way, we are still a guest in the region, even if there is a considerable amount of arm twisting and propping up of local economies involved. Start throwing around a lot of heavy ordinance and you will quickly see what non-cooperation is really about.

That's probably about as impolite as I'm allowed to be, without cursing at some of you. You guy's remember BDS, don't you. (BUSH DERANGEMENT SYNDROME) We now have the ODS version. (OBAMA DERANGEMENT SYNDROME) It's nothing new either. This has gone on about every Presidential administration since at least the Johnson administration.

I know what kind of nonsense feeds into this stuff. I go down to the post office and someone in line is yammering about Obama's birth certificates. I go to work on someone's file server and this other nut job is still going on about how the Mossad demolitioned the World Trade Center buildings. The sad part is both are half way intelligent people. I ask for the basis of what they believe, and I get the same garbage from both; "What you see in the press is only the tip of the iceberg. They're covering up what is really happening." Where's the other part of the iceberg people keep talking about? Are they sitting on it? Arraaaaak ..

Sorry to bring it up, but this kind of garbage keeps leaking into the debate. Even here!

And thanks KP, for the bit about why authorities initially thought this might be a domestic bombing. A little bit of sanity for the debate.

Posted by BraddS at May 6, 2010 2:34 PM ET:

I think that some of the slip ups that posters are pointing out are probably the result of FS's state of mind when he decided to kill a whole lot of innocent people so his god will let him live in paradise forever.

Posted by Neo at May 6, 2010 2:41 PM ET:

"I expect your analysis may be flawed in another way in that your primary conclusion that this was not a suicide attack. Is there definitive evidence released of which I am not aware that this clown did not attempt to detonate at the scene? Was his air ticket not purchased post-fizzle?"

I believe he had a pre positioned get away car.

Posted by Justin Credible at May 6, 2010 3:45 PM ET:

The one thing that needs to be underlined is that AQ or the Taliban will continue to try until they succeed.

Posted by C.H. at May 6, 2010 5:11 PM ET:

"Excellent analytical article about how the Pakistani STATE is the main cause of global terrorism"


That article you linked to began as if it were written by Bal Thackeray himself (see my comment in the previous thread), almost saying that Pakistanis are not the same as other humans.

Pakistan is not responsible for Shia terrorism (Iran and Hezbollah), which is what brought about the first suicide truck bombings. Arab nationalist terrorism (Fatah, PLO, Saddam Hussein, Assad), which brought airliner hijacking onto the stage, has no roots in Pakistan either. Tamil terrorism perfected the "suicide vest" that has been put to disturbing success in Iraq and South Asia.

It seems to me that Pakistan is just one small factor. I'm not defending the mistakes Pak has made at all, but to tie everything back to an entire country of 170 million people is ridiculous.

Posted by kp at May 6, 2010 5:42 PM ET:

@Neo: "I believe he had a pre positioned get away car."

Very good point, Neo.

In fact NPR had a couple of comments on this today. The pointed out (from, I presume, video surveillance at Times Square) that he did a dry run with the SUV 3 days before the attack. The day before the attack he drove his black Isuzu Rodeo and parked it as a getaway vehicle. But he then left the keys to his getaway car in the SUV. He apparently took the train back to CT. He picked up the Isuzu the following day. Another mistake.

It's also in the Wikipedia article which is well written and cited (though perhaps not quite complete).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Times_Square_car_bomb_attempt

Clearly he didn't intend this to be a suicide attack. Was his return to Pakistan (without his Pakistani passport -- that has been found at his old house) to be for propaganda purposes? Perhaps a video with HM? That's an interesting twist.

Posted by John Smith at May 6, 2010 9:56 PM ET:

The Pakistani Taliban have now stated that they had nothing to do with the Times Square bombing attempt had have reiterated that they have suicide bombers ready to strike within the US. It would be great if the Times Square attempt were in fact the manifestation of what had been threatened, but that apparently is too much to have realistically hoped for. Shahzad was a relatively untrained "lone wolf" terrorist who lacked the competence to carry out his ill-conceived attack; it seems likely that we are in for a dose of the real thing in the near future--perhaps something along the lines of what Moscow has experienced.

Posted by Render at May 6, 2010 10:14 PM ET:

This was not an al-Q operation. It was a Pakistani Taliban TTP operation. There is a subtle yet extremely meaningful difference. One of the noted hallmarks of a "classic" al-Q spectacular operation is multiple simultaneous targets. Another is the length of time spent in planning and development, (9/11 took at least three years from conception to launch).

Shahzad, according to current reports, was given a five month crash course inside Pakistan covering all of the tradecraft required for him to carry out this operation on his own and was given the cash to purchase the equipment needed upon his return to the US. He was his own facilitator, his own bomb maker, and his own target scout. Not a "standard" al-Q operation at all.

Skilled bomb makers (from any terrorist group) rarely ever commit to or are committed directly to suicide operations. For what must be the most obvious of reasons. It takes time, training, practice, money, and not a little bit of luck to create a skilled bomb maker.

Conversely almost all terrorist attacks or bombings of this nature (or this deep inside enemy territory) are or should probably be regarded as at least somewhat suicidal in nature, at least from a civilized viewpoint.

Shahzad was not skilled. His training was rushed, incomplete, and luckily flawed. Bomb making resources that may be readily available for practice and training inside Pakistan's FATA are not as likely to be found over the counter in Connecticut or New York. The NYPD and FBI do not move, act, or react like the Tribal Police do. NYPD may actually have more trained, armed manpower in uniform then al-Q or the TTP have (NYPD is larger then some third world armies).

For the TTP's purposes Shahzad did not have to be successful in Times Square, all he had to do was make the attempt.

The actual tracking and apprehension of Shahzad post failed attempt is the stuff of a Hollywood made for TV detective show. An unbeatable script combination of hard nosed old school sleuthing, inept political leadership, and fantastic luck crammed into a single seventy-two hour period. Unless Mayor Bloomberg was being intentionally misleading, his public pronouncements during the investigation were dangerously wrong and unquestionably politically motivated.

Now we will spend years and untold millions attempting to prosecute Shahzad for what we all already know he has done. All the while knowing that he may very well have a viable reason to plead insanity 

Meanwhile the TTP (and many other like-minded/allied Islamic terrorist groups), molested only by the occasional UAV or Pakistani Potemkin offensive, will still sit in Waziristan and the rest of the FATA, directing, launching, and joining in attacks on innocent (and not so innocent) Pakistani civilians and Afghan civilians, attacking US and NATO troops, UN and other aid workers in Afghanistan, attacking Pakistani troops and police (and vice versa), attacking India, attacking little girls, and even occasionally attacking each other.

KP: I think you might be wrong about Islamic terrorist attacks within the US (while remaining open to being convinced otherwise). Going back to 1979-1998 very few Islamic terrorist attacks within the US were of the truly suicidal variety (no exit plan laid out or possible). Post 2001 the casualty numbers are skewed by 9/11 itself. But the majority of the post 9/11 attacks and attempts within the US still have had at least some rudimentary form of escape or evasion plan, at least from the initial scene. The Fort Dix Six intended to "escape in the smoke and confusion" but never stated exactly how, where to, or what they intended to do afterwards. Even Major Hassan was reportedly heading for his car (or more victims) with his pockets still full of loaded magazines and an unused .357 revolver when he was shot down. Where he was going afterwards he probably didn't even know, but he was leaving the building.

LWJ comments section: Long periods of boredom interrupted by occasional moments of abject terror and unrelenting horror.

NOTHING
PITHY,
R

Posted by gfgwgc at May 6, 2010 11:48 PM ET:

C.H., You dismissed the article referenced above as something a nationalist Hindu would write. However, the article makes a great point regarding the role (or lack thereof) of the educated, broad-minded Pakistani voice in this debate. These are people who, as the author puts it, are great dinner hosts and companions. They are the glue that normally binds all humanity together. The author calls them PLU (People Like Us).

One of the more peculiar aspect of the state of affairs in Pakistan is the position that these PLUs have taken. In my experience they either deny what's happening in their country or blame it on external factors. Today's NY Times had a video interview of people in Faisal's hometown. One was with a district attorney who was "against militancy" and another was with a friend of Faisal's father who called himself "a liberal". The attorney stated that the Times Square incident was a setup meant to defame Pakistan. The "liberal" blamed everything on american policies. Both these guys were PLUs to the hilt.

If we haven't been able to get through to these educated, seemingly reasonable and amiable PLUs, what hope do we have for reaching the majority of the uneducated populace? How can we ever think of winning the hearts and minds of ordinary Pakistanis when we haven't even been able to convince our own counterparts?

Posted by Bing at May 7, 2010 1:00 AM ET:

This hasn't been mentioned before, but is it simply mere coincidence that both Zazi and FS belong to the same Pushtun clan from which the Taliban sprung from?

Either that made it easier for them to blend in with the t-ban or more susceptible to t-ban propaganda.

Posted by Jimmy at May 7, 2010 2:14 AM ET:

C.H. Sorry you misunderstood. The article is a perfect example of how ordinary Pakistanis are steered towards terrorism by their education system and political and Military masters. State sponsored 'Education of Hate' is what is happening in Pakistan since the Time of Pres. Zia (30 years ago) That means atleast two generations of young Pakistanis have been brainwashed by the STATE into spreading hate. I read an article where during a prize distribution ceremony of a painting competition for 10 year old kids, the chief guest spoke of how India is Pakistan's greatest enemy!! This is what has to be targeted in the fight against terrorism. The Pak Army, ISI, Mullah funding and control of Education. If the US wants to help Pakistan, withhold billions of dollars of aid until Pakistanis revamp their entire education syllabus and system. Modern politically neutral education in academic institutions and not Madrassahs (churning out 10,000 radicalised Jihadis every year!!) is what is needed there, which teaches co-operation (and not hate and war) with neighbours and the world. Otherwise, the world will have to battle many more generations of brainwashed radicals.

Posted by T Ruth at May 7, 2010 5:05 AM ET:

For those truly interested in understanding the phenomena of violence in Pakistani society, here is an excerpt by Prof Rizvi, from an ABC Radio show that explains its roots knowledgably:

"In the case of Pakistan, I think the rise of militancy and especially State patronage which was available to these militant groups, caused greater social fragmentation in Pakistan, Here violence in the society increased, sectarian villages killing increased, and the blowback effect of supporting militancy whether in Afghanistan, or in Kashmir, had extremely negative consequences for Pakistan, society. Pakistan, in Pakistan there has been proliferation of weapons because of the first Afghan War against the Soviets, and then when Pakistan began to patronise some militant groups to function in Indian administered Kashmir, then these groups also had negative implication for Pakistan society, there were more recruitment, open recruitment, the villager extremism increased in Pakistan which fragmented Pakistan society. So there was and there continues to be a lot of negative fallout of Pakistani State policy of patronising militants."

This comment was made by Hassan Askari Rizvi, Professor Emeritus Punjab University Lahore. You can listen to the whole program or read the transcript here
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/rearvision/stories/2010/2889969.htm

Personally i found the dialogue to be of a very high caliber. Whether one considers oneself to be a friend or foe of Pakistan, it is critical to see their society as it is. Most importantly, it is critical for them to see themselves as they actually are--that is a prerequiste to change.

Posted by T Ruth at May 7, 2010 5:36 AM ET:

CH

"That article you linked to began as if it were written by Bal Thackeray himself (see my comment in the previous thread), almost saying that Pakistanis are not the same as other humans."

A. Presumably the 'you' here is Jimmy--i note that you are reluctant to address him by name.

B. The thread is about Pak Taliban and TSq. It is not about India or your opinions about Bal Thackeray who you seem obsessed with, since you link it back again to a previous thresd.

C. I followed the last thread with great interest. There appear several comments addressed to you. You may care to respond to at least some of them.

D. Your comment in quotes above practically implies that Jimmy is "almost saying that Pakistanis are not the same as other humans."

FACT is i haven't read any one say that here and nor has Bal Thackeray nor did that article! That 'translation' is a figment of your imagination. Putting words into peoples' mouths is a very low form of argument, if not even childish, and detracts from the dialogue here.

Posted by Neo at May 7, 2010 8:46 AM ET:

Gfgwgc,

I get your point and actually agree that Pakistani "people like us" are in total denial. Many are directly sympathetic with Islamist goals. Where we may disagree is whether those people are at all compatible with the Taliban. I would argue that the answer is largely NO, they are not at all compatible. In a Taliban takeover, some would be co-opted into the Taliban structure, the rest would be killed or brutally suppressed.

Pakistani "people like us" don't have an ounce of sympathy for either India, the United States, or any the West. Whether they will act to save their own skins is another question though. They also take have some willingness to take help, however reluctantly. That's the only reason the United States still has any influence in Pakistan. If Pakistan were to fall to the Taliban, not only would war with India be inevitable, but Pakistan itself would become much like Afghanistan or the killing fields in Cambodia. The Taliban hasn't the slightest idea how to govern a country, nor do they really care.

The Taliban and Al Qaeda are not General Zia's Islamists anymore. Zia opened the door to Islamism, but I doubt he had a Paradise (Suicide) cult in mind. It's not even the ISI's Taliban anymore. The Taliban now insists that the ISI serve at their behest. It's no longer the other way around.

Not all Islamists come in the same flavor, although we may find all flavors distasteful. The Taliban is a Utopian movement. They are the Kool-Aid drinkers of the Islamist world, Jonestown flavored Kool-Aid. They intend to bomb their way back to the seventh century and die trying.

The ultimate question is can Pakistani "people like us" stop hating us long enough to save their own hides. A year or two ago, I probably would have answered NO. Now, I'm slightly more optimistic.

Posted by Neo at May 7, 2010 9:13 AM ET:

Jimmy,

"If the US wants to help Pakistan, withhold billions of dollars of aid until Pakistanis revamp their entire education syllabus and system."

The thing you don't seem to understand is you can't hold out for a better political climate in the middle of a war. Just because your holding out doesn't mean your accomplishing anything of substance. You have two choices, you work with what you've got, or you run for cover. The Army has a phrase for it. It's called "embracing the suck". Hold out for any reason and you flat out lose.

By the way. I don't agree with C.H. either. That doesn't mean I'm going to take the other end of the argument though.

And Yes, Pakistan is the origin of much of the problem. We still have no choice but to work with them. I'll bet there are Pakistani's saying the exact same thing about us. As I said, It's all about "Embracing the Suck". Even liberal Democrats have to deal with reality on occation (Obama). They can shower all the filth off themselves later.

Posted by Pashtun at May 7, 2010 10:47 AM ET:

Neo,
You are not reaching to the heart of the problem, which is to stop the factories of terrorism established by Pak army. Rather you want to follow the short cut by favoring sponsers of factories of terrorists and hoping that the problem will go away. Unless otherwise the nerve center of terrorism(Pakistan) are dismantled, bombing villages of Afghanistan for next 10 years is not going to win you the war against terrorism. The alternative is total defeat against terrorists.

Posted by madashell59 at May 7, 2010 10:49 AM ET:

I wonder if this attempted bombing was supposed to go wrong. For TTP (if they are behind it) gets the same terror that they can infiltrate our security system and we are not safe without the initial blood shed that may have pushed some of the current "against the war" types to say alright thats it. Just level the Place (Pakistan).

Posted by Neo at May 7, 2010 1:37 PM ET:

Pashtun,

"Neo, You are not reaching to the heart of the problem, which is to stop the factories of terrorism established by Pak army. Rather you want to follow the short cut by favoring sponsers of factories of terrorists and hoping that the problem will go away. Unless otherwise the nerve center of terrorism (Pakistan) are dismantled, bombing villages of Afghanistan for next 10 years is not going to win you the war against terrorism. The alternative is total defeat against terrorists."

At this juncture, I think it is only the Pakistani Army that can go after the primary terrorist enclaves within Pakistan. For the United States to do so brings them into direct conflict with Pakistani sovereignty claims, with all the repercussions. The United States can prop up the Pakistani government but it cannot force them to go into North Waziristan. It's for the Pakistani government to figure out that the Taliban has permanently wandered astray with no real chance of coming back into the fold. The Pakistani government has created a little breathing space this last year with the offensives in Swat and South Waziristan. I'm not sure those current gains could survive a full year of complacency about attacking North Wazeristan.

In the mean time, the United States tries to roll back some of the recent gains the Taliban has made in Afghanistan. If there is no action on the part of the Pakistani's in the next two years, than our options become very limited. Domestic politics would probably demand some sort of withdrawal. That would leave the US and regional powers supporting some sort of rump state in Northern Afghanistan. We would than await the inevitable start of a next Afghan/Pakistan regional war. Further financial support for Pakistan would probably become untenable, quite possibly leading to complete destabilization.

I hate to say it, but we are very dependent on Pakistan, and they are even more dependent on us. Neither country likes that interdependence, but personal feelings have only limited relevance.

Posted by Jimmy at May 8, 2010 12:43 AM ET:

Neo,

I do sincerely wish you would wake up from your dream fantasy of Pakistan Army ISI 'helping' the US in combating terror. They 'help' only against those terrorists who threaten Pakistan. All groups who target America, NATO, India, Afghanistan are left untouched!

An honest set questions to everyone on this thread: What do you all really feel America has achieved in Afghanistan after 9 years of war, hundreds of soldiers passing away, billions of dollars spent? Has the terrorist threat to the American HOMELAND reduced or only increased? Has any of the REAL perpetrators of the henious 9/11 attacks been punished? Why isn't Mulla Omar , Haqqani in American custody even though the world knows they are enjoying a comfortable life in Pakistan under the patronage of Pakistani Army ISI?

My personal answer would be VERY LITTLE!! (Some success, ofcourse, saluting the sacrifices of American soldiers here!) Why? because the FACTORIES of Jihad are still intact in Pakistan!! Their handlers (Pakistan Army, ISI) are still not in the dock. They are still thought of as part of the solution instead of part of the problem!! They are being appeased instead of threatened. The are being rewarded instead of punished. Isn't the sole superpower America reduced to a state where it has begun paying protection money to Pakistan Army ISI for protection against terrorists? (That is what the billions of dollars of aid is, in reality)

Believe me, in 2011 when American soldiers come home, Pakistan based terror will come home behind them, if we don't act now! Already they have begun reaching American shores. Even with Hitler appeasement failed....

Posted by ArneFufkin at May 8, 2010 12:49 PM ET:

The Afghan component OEF has been a stalemate proposition and I've been okay with that while we were bolstering the nascent democracy in Iraq. It was always an economy of force operation, but it did upend the Taliban/AQI stronghold and took away a vital state sponsor (with the attendant diplomatic travel prerogatives etc.) of Islamist terror directed at the West and America in particular.

So, it has served its purpose. Unlike some, I do think that Obama's Af-Pak "surge" strategy has a favorable prospect of success and I believe professionals like Gates/Mullen/Petraeus when they say they are getting all the support and investment from Pakistan that is politically possible and resource-capable at this time. Petraeus has described it as "the Pakistanis have a lot of sticks in a lot of hornet's nests but they have a limited number of sticks."

They would contend that the Pakis know well that the Taliban are an existential threat to their state - and I believe them.

It's a complex, difficult world and you have to take what you can get when you can get it.

Posted by gfgwgc at May 8, 2010 3:10 PM ET:

ArneFufkin - You commented that "the US has been getting all the support and investment from Pakistan that is possible for the moment".

Yet, Hillary Clinton has (in the "60 minutes" television interview today) warned Pakistan of 'severe consequences' if a successful attack is traced back to Pakistan. She also said that Pakistan has been playing a "double game". Anne Patterson, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, met with Zardari and (to quote NY Times) used "forceful" language to convey that Pakistan must act more aggressively against militancy. NY Times also quotes a US official saying that "if there is a successful attack, we will have to act" and suggests the possibility of a boots-on-the-grounds presence in Pakistan. The last statement is probably a strategic leak.

These warnings are astoundingly aggressive and blatant. They clearly show that the administration does not believe that Pakistan is doing all that it can.

Posted by ArneFufkin at May 8, 2010 10:40 PM ET:

@gfgwgc: I commented that Secretary Gates/Admiral Mullen/General Petraeus have clearly stated their satisfaction that the Pakistan government and military leaders are close allies and doing all they can - given their limiting cultural, political and financial parameters - to address the Islamist existential threat within their borders.

I've taken stock of these men over the years and I believe their representations.

Posted by Render at May 12, 2010 1:48 AM ET:

Sorry, but I have real (and documented) problems with Robert Gates veracity.

SPANNING
DECADES,
R