Killing a Diplomat

A closer look at the suicide bombing at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, and the chaos that is Karachi

Details are beginning to emerge from last Thursday’s deadly suicide strike outside of the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. By all accounts, the bomb used in the attack was quite powerful. The Associated Press interviews an unnamed counterterrorism expert, who indicated “the attacker used high-intensity explosives, and the attack was the most powerful blast he had seen in Karachi.”

The detonation left a crater eight foot in diameter and two feet deep. The Consulate’s three-ton armored SUV was hurled over a ten foot concrete barrier into the parking lot of the hotel, about sixty feet away. A naval hospital situated across the street from the Marriottt, as well as a residential compound across the street from the Consulate sustained damage. “A man’s body, with part of the head missing, was flung onto the hotel’s second story.” Four people were killed, and fifty-two wounded. .

The the FBI and Pakistani police are attempting to identify the suicide bomber based on security tapes, the vehicle and the bomber’s recovered remains. But the target of the attack is still in question. The Associated Press report indicates the target was the U.S. Consulate itself; “Karachi police chief Niaz Sadiqui said the attacker intended to hit the consulate, but a Pakistani paramilitary guard saw him and tried to stop him, so the attacker rammed his car into the diplomat’s vehicle instead. The guard also died in the blast.”

ABC News reports the suicide bomber waited patiently, about eighteen minutes in a parking space along the street behind the Consulate and hotel, before ramming the diplomatic vehicle; “According to a video security tape described to ABC News, a U.S. consulate Toyota Land Cruiser with an American diplomat inside approached the back street to the consulate at 8:58 a.m. Parked on the street in a spot reserved for Pakistani naval officers, the suicide bomber waited for 18 minutes and then backed into the Land Cruiser.”

If the ABC News account holds up, the likelihood is the U.S. diplomat himself was the target of the attack. The vehicle appears to have been intentionally targeted, and the suicide bomber would have few reasons to wait eighteen minutes, exposing his mission to potential security sweeps, before striking at the Consulate.

The attack in Karachi serves to remind us of yet another lawless region of Pakistan. While the focus often is the tribal belt and Balochistan, Karachi is a terror haven in its own right. The Asia Times provides a primer on the state of affairs in the city. Karachi, sometimes referred to as “Pakistan’s Beirut,” is a haven for Islamists, terrorists, drug lords, weapons smugglers, sectarian violence, corrupt police, military officers and politicians, criminal enterprise and jihadi training facilities.

World infamous al Qaeda terrorists such as Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mohammad Atta, Sheikh Omar Syed, Abu Zubaidah, Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid, along with Dawood Ibrahim, the Asian underworld’s Godfather and terror boss, have all operated in Karachi. Terrorist attacks such as the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in eastern Africa, 9/11, the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001, and other terror enterprises have been directly traced back to the city.

Pakistan’s problems are legion.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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