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Al-Qaeda Bombing of the Islamabad Marriott

With the presidential debate on foreign policy and national security coming up this week, readers will want to be keenly aware of the developments inside Pakistan, especially the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad this weekend. Below are some resource links of note, the first three being my own initial looks this weekend followed by a couple of other excellent sources, each with links to additional pertinent info.

Read and also follow the links from here:

My initial take has been that the CIA was targeted. The potential of a Danish intelligence office there being targeted (in al-Qaeda's War on Animation) has also ben raised since. However, it has been revealed that President Zardari had planned to hold a PPP party gathering at the Marriott. At the last minute, under security warnings, the site was changed to the Prime Minister's residence, less than a half mile away. This may indeed be the specific target al-Qaeda sought to strike within the Marriott building, unaware of the venue change.

It is important to consider domestic Pakistani political divisions in order to understand when and where the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance in Pakistan would strike at Zardari, Gilani or other figures on their hit list with a massive bombing. They will not likely risk killing or injuring members of Nawaz Sharif's PML-N party, PPP opponents (and political figures to the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance) and vocally supporting anti-American and anti-Western Pakistani policy. Why al-Qaeda would strike a PPP-exclusive gathering is precisely the same reason they would not strike a joint session of parliament. Some have suggested that they would have bombed the joint session of parliament earlier in the day if they could have. That thinking is folly and generally the line put forth by the Pakistani government in order to pat themselves on the back and 'prove' to the country how impenetrable security is there.

Nothing is impenetrable. It's a matter of will and internal connections. And, as can be seen with the Marriott bombing, if you put up barriers away from the building, terrorists will simply build bigger and better bombs to damage from the stand-off distance.

With Senator Obama's remarks this summer about sending US ground forces into Pakistan, a remark he quickly distanced himself from, it is sure to be an issue that comes up again. You would do well to understand the situation as clearly as possible before one listens to politicians speaking of the same. They, like you, are intelligence consumers. They should never be your intelligence source.


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Comments (5)

There is also a report that... (Below threshold)

There is also a report that soldiers from Pakistan opened fire on American military helicopters today as well. The problem is that the government of Pakistan continues to resist any real efforts to really crackdown on Al Qaeda bases located near the Afghan border. And now seems willing to kill American soldiers who will attack known Al Qaeda bases.

Is Pakistan really a friend of the U.S. or even really serious in dealing with Al Qaeda? The answer seems to be sadly no on both accounts.

Pakistan is a blend of pro-... (Below threshold)
Steve Schippert:

Pakistan is a blend of pro-US and pro-terrorist figures, with both sentiments represented throughout its elected government, intelligence and military communities with significant power and influence held by both sides.

The problem for Pakistan is this:

If it openly sides with the US and overtly against the Taliban-AQ terrorists, working boot-with-boot in tandem, they will see an immediate wave of terror in all parts of Pakistan that will be sustained.

If they side openly against the US and overtly tolerant of the Taliban-AQ alliance, they will see that the Taliban and AQ are infinitely strengthened only to come after them next, as well as to perhaps invite an open war with the US which they would lose.

Right now, those in Pakistani positions of power friendly to the US are playing a delicate game of balance, trying to appease both sides for their own preservation.

The longer they do this, the stronger AQ gets - and they are coming after the gov't quite openly, if at a measured clip. And they are pushing away the one force capable of whacking AQ without reservations (such as the Pak military reservation of attacking fellow Pakistanis). And at the end of the day, their demise (Pak gov't) simply gets closer and closer ever so incrementally.

One of two things will happen: They will declare both with the US and against the Taliban and =begin to purge pro-Talib members of the gov't/intel/mil communities and get on with the process of surviving by defeating the insurgency being waged against them, or they will do as they have been, fall to Talib-AQ and the Pakistani 'side' will be chosen for them after they fall.

The latter is the current path afoot.

I've been following the sit... (Below threshold)

I've been following the situation in Pakistan, and I think that if al Qaeda intended to carry out the bombing to decapitate the government, including Zardari, top generals, and other public officials, they wouldn't care if those sympathetic got in the way.

After all, the Islamists will simply call them martyrs for the cause of jihad. Al Qaeda isn't exactly shy about murdering anyone and everyone that crosses their path, no matter who they are or their religious background (and if you're Muslims, you can never quite be sufficiently Islamist for their tastes).

Further, if you consider the possibility that Baitullah Mehsud was involved (and he denies it), it raises the same questions as per al Qaeda - namely that he's more than willing to kill anyone in his path to fulfill his ultimate objectives.

I'm no rocket scientist on ... (Below threshold)
Tbird:

I'm no rocket scientist on international affairs but I see the situation this way. The AQ boys have given the Pak's the one finger salute. The Pak's have two choices. One, go after the f**kers where ever they are and exterminate them or two, roll over and play dead. I'm betting on choice two. The Pak government is so totally corrupt that they'll keep stuffing their Swiss bank accounts with US aid money till the last minute and then, when things go to rat sh*t, they'll leave the country and retire to France. Where they'll be among their own kind. If you get my drift....

I thought Pakistan was one ... (Below threshold)
SDW:

I thought Pakistan was one of our friends? At least that is what governor Bush says.




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