On the brutal attack against Pakistan through the Marriott Hotel

I am late posting anything on this as I wanted to metaphorically at least let some of the dust settle on the attack before I posted. Ideally, I wish to speak about things that will and are happening as ongoing evens on this blog and on attacks such as this one I prefer to wait till some decent data is in to post it as well as add hopefully some meaningful commentary. One thing is certain. Islamic terrorists are easily able to attack highly sensitive targets within the heart of Pakistan. Something they where not able to do under Musharaff. In fact, since Musharaff left office we have seen attacks on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad as well this Marriott hotel attack, one which used over 2600 Lbs. of military grade explosives, (this itself is meaningful) and one which was within a few miles of the Presidential house while a high level cabinet meeting was taking place. An excellent analysis is available on Stratfor.com and for members is well worth reading.

Below are various articles. I will update as good ones become apparent to me. I believe the thing to note is, this is not an isolated incident. We can expect more attacks, more frequently and more vicious both within Pakistan but in India and Afghanistan as well.

I also would reasonably expect one outside of this theater altogether and in the west in the foreseeable future.

September 22, 2008

Jihadis’ Hellish Message to Pakistan

Editor’s note: This article was filed from Europe where Dr. Phares is conducting briefings to Government and IO officials.
As shown by world television networks, the hellish flames ravaging the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad seemed like a vision of the Apocalypse. That’s at least how many survivors of the terror attack that massacred more than 60 and wounded hundreds have described it: “The end of the World.” But beyond the barbaric bloodshed and the human suffering ensuing, the heavy question fuses fast: How do we read this Jihadi mayhem and what is the message behind the bombing?
When a war is raging, as is the case in Pakistan for a number of years, analysts won’t wait for the procedural investigation to determine the identity of the perpetrators of this attack. Local police and security forces will get somewhere sometime. The graver question concerns the big picture. What are al Qaeda and their Taliban gangs up to by terrorizing the people and government of the second largest Muslim country in the world and – more important – the first Islamic nation to possess nuclear weapons?
According to many Pakistani sources commenting to media after the explosion, including Lt. Gen. Talaat Massud, the Terror attack has a “loud and clear message.” He asserted that those behind the operation “want to tell the Pakistani Government to stop sending the Army into their (Taliban) areas and to oppose any intervention (against al Qaeda) inside Pakistan by the United States.” The Massud comments, aired on BBC were firm: “This is a mega explosion and it needs mega decisions in the country. More will come.”
In terms of targeting, indeed the blast ravaged a very prominent landmark in the capital where foreigners and Pakistani personalities often swing by. Moreover, the Jihadists hit hard in the city’s nerve center. In the vicinity of the Parliament – where the new President just finished an acceptance speech – of the house of the Prime Minister and of many ministers, of the judiciary and other significant headquarters, this strike is heavy with a multiple-level message.
Undoubtedly the first level is addressed to the new President and his cabinet. The War between the “Jihadi Islamists” of all kinds and the secular coalition led by the “People’s Party” formerly headed by the late Benazir Bhutto is on. Indeed, while many in the U.S. and the West doubted former President Musharraf’s ability or political will to take the fight comprehensively to the tribal areas, newly elected President Aif Ali Zardari and his Prime Minister Yosaf Raza Gilani have repeatedly committed to confront the “fundamentalists and terrorists.”
A one year long reading of this “struggle” shows that the Taliban have targeted the secular “People’s Party” since its chances to come to power were increasing. After a failed attempt at her life, the Jihadists finally assassinated Bhutto. But the comeback of her party in the last elections brought her widowed husband to the top office. The “Bhutto leadership” reaffirmed their intention to take on the Jihadi terrorists.
Strong with a popular support, including among women and youth, the secular political coalition was considered a top danger by the armed Islamists – hence, the logic of the attack on the Marriott. It was chiefly to strike at the forthcoming ideological advance against the Jihadists. In short, this was a preemptive blow against a government which may not hesitate in engaging a battle of ideas against the medieval forces in Waziristan and against the circles of Jihadophiles in Islamabad. From their hideouts, bin Laden, Zawahiri and Mullah Umar have urged their Pakistani brethren to smite the head of the secular establishment in the country. Pakistan could be the biggest prize ever, if it falls into the hands of the Taliban and their urban allies. But to do so, the current democratically-elected government and the president must be removed. And prior to this, the Armed forces have to stop their raids into the northwestern valleys.
But the second level of the message is about the U.S.’s role. This is a warning to Pakistani civilian and military authorities to break all ties to the American-led campaign against terror – more precisely, to reject NATO incursions after al Qaeda inside Pakistan. Already, the new public agenda of the current Administration in Islamabad openly warns against U.S. raids across the borders for domestic political reasons. The new President pledged, a few hours before the explosion, that he will carry the campaign against the Terrorists but at the same time he will refuse American military interventions on his national soil. The Jihadi bloodshed in the city is a “mega-warning” that al Qaeda and the Taliban will respond inside the country against pressure coming from across the border.
In the end, the Jihadist plan can be summarized as follows:
1. Intimidate the Government into a pull back position.
2. Contain the Pakistani military efforts against Waziristan.
3. Create a wedge between the Army and the Government.
4. Trigger a crisis between Washington and Islamabad.
But a more thorough investigation of the propaganda goals sought by the Jihadists may conclude that, by inflaming the situation in Pakistan and by ripple effect in Afghanistan, the architects of international terror want to heat up the debate in the U.S. Presidential election as well. The war room of al Qaeda has demonstrated in past years that it also aims at manipulating public opinion “behind enemy lines” as well.
By fueling the violence inside Pakistan, the propagandists would demonstrate that U.S. attention to that country was minimal in contrast to American involvement in Iraq. Well manipulated by operatives in the region’s media, this snowball argumentation can stir the debate into a desired shift in public opinion. The days ahead may show additional evidence as to the complex game played in this most dangerous place on the planet.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Dr. Walid Phares is the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy. He is the author of The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

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