I was thinking about the mixed messages coming out of the Obama Administration regarding the Times Square bomb plot when suddenly it hit me – they’ve finally got it right, and it’s about time. I believe we’re about to take the fight to the Taliban in Pakistan.
Let’s review the timeline to unpack the mixed messages I’m referring to:
Saturday, May 1st: The vehicle-borne improvised explosive device is found in Times Square.
Sunday, May 2nd: Police were looking for a white male in his mid-40s.
Monday, May 3rd: Immediately following the report of the failed attack, Mayor Bloomberg offered this assessment of the possible suspect: it could have been “a mentally deranged person or somebody with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health-care bill or something.”
Wednesday, May 5th; The NY Times reports the evidence mounts for Taliban role in the plot.
Friday, May 7th: GEN Petraeus says the suspect is a lone wolf who acted alone and had no direct contact with the Pakistani Taliban. His evidence for this claim is unclear.
Sunday, May 9th: Attorney General Holder claims that Shahzad did not act alone and says the Pakistani Taliban “was behind the attack.” He is also quoted as saying: “We know that they helped facilitate it.
OK, so this is where the rubber meets the proverbial road. For years, Pakistan has played both sides of the fence regarding extremists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). We tell them to go after al-Qaeda (comprised of foreign Arabs) and they do exactly that. Except they refuse to go after the native Pashtun Taliban, because they need the Taliban as a buffer in the Kashmir against a nuclear India. They have even gone so far as to offer captured Taliban the opportunity to fight in the Kashmir instead of going to jail.
Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid has written at length about the Pakistanis reluctance to go after the Taliban and the clear security threat that is a result of their passivity.
I have also written at length regarding the nexus between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The two are now inseparable, as they feed off each other in FATA; the Taliban offering sanctuary to al-Qaeda while al-Qaeda offers financing and tactical input.
Which brings me back to the mixed messages from our civilian and military leadership. It is my humble opinion that our leadership has finally grasped the opportunity the failed Times Square bombing has offered them. After fumbling the initial “command message”, they finally got on the same page when they realized what has fallen in their lap: we now have a terror attack on our soil financed and planned at the direction of the Pakistani Taliban. It is no longer just al-Qaeda.
And Pakistan can no longer claim that it is only al-Qaeda that threatens the U.S. I believe they are now being pressured by the Obama administration to sweep through FATA and clear the various terrorist groups once and for all.
I predict an escalation in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas by the spring of 2011, just in time for the Iowa Army National Guard to get a piece of the action.
Ahmed Rashid agrees, predicting: “The Pakistani army now will have to go into North Waziristan…the overall level of violence will only worsen.”
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