Foreign Policy Blogs

The Battle for Pakistan Relocates To the Capital

The Taliban in Pakistan have denied responsibility for the Islamabad Marriott bombing that left over 50 dead and 250 injured. According to Al Jazeera, Talibani senior commander Baitullah Mehsud claims "that their group does not believe in killing so many locals and would never overtly attack civilians.' Mehsud backs this assertion by highlighting the use of a rare explosive compound, RDX, in the hotel bombing.
"RDX was used in the attack, which is a very volatile substance. The big question is: Where did such a large amount of RDX come from?' The Taliban have reportedly never used this material.

Pakistani officials are claiming that RDX has been used in al Qaeda related terrorist attacks throughout Pakistan. "We are collecting evidence. The explosives were similar to those used in the Danish embassy, which was claimed by al-Qaeda, and the attack on the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) camp in Rawalpindi last year,” the official said."

The news is being met with intense interest by counter-terror officials throughout the region. The recent bombing is providing further evidence that al Qaeda terrorist cells are relocating from Peshawar and the Northwest frontier and are setting up shop around the Pakistani capital. Whereas other terror incidents are often planned and coordinated outside of Islamabad, that does not appear to be the source of this recent attack. Due to increased security surrounding the capital, featuring road blocks, security checkpoints, and random searches, officials believe the truck bomb was researched, planned, and created within the city limits.

"Our focus at the moment is to track down the network in Islamabad which must have facilitated the movement and construction of the bomb,” a senior official said. "Carrying 600 kilos of explosives over long distances and through checkpoints is not possible, so our immediate suspicion is that the bomb was loaded in Islamabad.'

The Pakistani government does not underestimate the severity of these developments, nor should they. Pakistan has long struggled with fundamentalist elements, however these organizations were primarily based in the wild frontier provinces and were often preoccupied with either coalition forces in Afghanistan or Pakistani forces within the region. Should this conflict spread throughout the capital, they now pose a direct, existential threat towards Pakistani legitimacy and the government at large.

More distressing are reports that upper-level Pakistani politicians, including the President and Prime Minister, were set to meet at the hotel that evening. Plans were changed at the last minute. According to UK's SkyNews, there is now a major investigation underway as to whether or not inside information was passed on between the civilian government and terrorist cells. Should the new establishment be infiltrated by al Qaeda sympathetic individuals, there will be far more devastating attacks in the weeks and months to come.

 

Author

Josh Hammer

Josh Hammer is an International Relations theorist, with expertise in terrorist ideology, American foreign policy, and war / conflict resolution. He currently holds a Master's of Science degree in International Politics from the University of Edinburgh, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the George Washington University. Josh's most recent work, his M.Sc. thesis, is a comparative analysis between Marxist / Leninist ideology and Osama bin Laden's global jihadi movement. He currently resides in New York.

Areas of Focus:
Terrorist Idealogy; American Foreign Policy; Conflict Resolution;

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