White House Pressures Pakistan to Stage Offensive Against Taliban

May 9, 2010

(ChattahBox)—In the wake of the failed Times Square bombing attempt by Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American from Pakistan, with ties to Islamic militants in Waziristan, the Obama administration issued a stern warning to the Pakistani government this week. U.S. military officials explained to Pakistani military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the extreme urgency of staging an offensive against Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents operating within its borders, in light of the very real threat of future attacks on American soil.

There is now clear evidence that Faisal Shahzad received terrorist training from Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters in North Waziristan. And he traveled several times back and forth from the United States to Pakistan, as he became increasingly radicalized. The Obama administration is concerned that the next attempt on American soil could succeed. And the White House is essentially telling Pakistan, either you act against the dangerous militants in North Waziristan, or we will.

According to the NY Times, since Shahzad’s arrest, the Pakistani government attempted to minimize the role of North Waziristan insurgents in the Times Square attack, partly out of embarrassment that Shahzad came from a well-respected military family:

“Since Mr. Shahzad’s arrest in the Times Square attack, each country has, to some extent, blamed the other. Many Pakistanis insist that Mr. Shahzad is an American citizen who was radicalized in the United States by the difficulties he found living there as a Muslim. The Americans stress that Mr. Shahzad has traveled more than a dozen times back to Pakistan from the United States since 1999, and appeared to have received his military training in the epicenter of militancy, North Waziristan. Mr. Shahzad’s background as the son of a senior Pakistani military officer has embarrassed the Pakistani Army, the most powerful institution in the country, and which receives generous financing from the United States. Mr. Shahzad’s father was a vice marshal in the Pakistani Air Force, and it appears that Mr. Shahzad grew up around senior military officers. After Mr. Shahzad told American investigators that he was trained in bomb making in North Waziristan, the Pakistani Army tried to play down that claim, portraying it as unlikely.The Pakistani Taliban took initial responsibility for the bombing attempt. Days later, though, their spokesman denied any involvement, a statement that may have been prompted by fears that their early claim of ownership of Mr. Shahzad might result in a direct attack on the North Waziristan enclave by the Americans, or the Pakistanis.”

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, pointed out that Shahzad’s connection to Pakistani militants “underscores the serious threat that we face from a very determined enemy.”


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