By Najam Sethi
FAISAL Shahzad’s botched bombing attempt in New York on May 1 has triggered a new debate on several issues.
What motivated him to abandon a comfortable and happily married lifestyle as a recently naturalised American citizen? Was he a “ lone wolf”? What was the nature of his contacts with Tehreek- i- Taliban Pakistan? Why did the US change its original accusations about the incident? Does this incident signal a significant shift in US- Pak policies in Waziristan? Why are Muslims of Pakistani origins more often than other Muslims caught in the eye of the terrorist storm? Faislal was outraged and radicalised, like Omar Sheikh ( who entrapped Danny Pearl and was responsible for his beheading), Rashid Rauf, Junaid Babar and the seven Pak- British wannebe bombers of Britain in 2004, and many others of their ilk before him, by American imperialist sins of commission and omission around the globe, especially in Palestine and Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. All these young men of Pakistani origin did not come from poor or deprived backgrounds, nor were they alienated from America and the West by lack of jobs or social welfare.
Indeed, Omar Sheikh studied at the London School of Economics and Aitchison College Lahore. Faisal’s father is a retired AVM of the Pakistan Air Force, his sister is a doctor and his brother a professional in Canada; and he personally had a financial analyst’s job at $ 80,000 a year, an American nationality and a happy married life. In fact, poverty or material deprivation are significant factors driving people like Ajmal Qasab and others into the promise of radical Islam and jihad only in the backward, semi- feudal areas of Southern Punjab or the dry riverbeds and barren mountains of Waziristan.
IT MAY be noted that Osama Bin Laden, their ideologue and political leader, is a scion of a multi- billionaire ruling family in Saudi Arabia, no less than the 2009 “ Christmas bomber” from Nigeria, Abdul Muttallab, who was trained in Yemen, and whose father, a former head of a leading Nigerian bank, is counted among the richest businessmen of Africa! Faisal botched it up. One reason may be lack of adequate training in a brief trip to Waziristan; or, because he was a “ lone wolf” in America, he simply couldn’t lay his hands in Connecticut on some scarce and regulated elements like Mercury that go into transforming fertilizer into explosive material; or he couldn’t make a
suitable detonator for the job ( hence cylinders of inflammable gas in the SUV).
He was also sloppy. He emailed the lady who sold him the SUV and he didn’t think of the clues he was leaving behind in the van if it didn’t explode! Of course, he’s not the first such terrorist who didn’t succeed – Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan- American trained in Waziristan, was arrested last September and charged with plotting to bomb New York’s subway system on the anniversary of 9/ 11.
The TTP’s Qari Hussain Mehsud, the chief organizer of the Taliban’s suicide squads in Waziristan, was quick to claim “ credit” for Faisal’s attempted bombing.
His statement should have been credible for one main reason: he had made a similarly truthful claim on video alongside the Jordanian triple- agent suicide bomber, Khalil Abu- Mulal al- Balawi, who infiltrated the CIA’s command bunker in Khost and decimated 7 leading American agents last year! Avenging the “ Drone” strikes is a key Taliban theme for local and foreign consumption simply because the Drones have proven as deadly against the Taliban as the Stingers did against the Russian troops in the 1980s.
Indeed, the TTP turned its guns against American targets only after the Drones started to hit them, starting with key figures like Baitullah Mehsud, Fazlullah, Hakimullah Mehsud, and increasing their frequency to target all hostile groups fighting the Pakistan army.
Besieged by the Taliban in the face of success signposts (Congressional elections in November 2010) and exit- strategy deadlines ( 2011), the Americans have obviously sought to capitalise on this event like able strategists.
After 9/ 11, they had unleashed their “daisy cutters” on Kabul for shock and awe. After Times Square, their Drones will swarm the skies over Waziristan like locusts. After 9/ 11, the Taliban escaped across Tora Bora into safe havens in Waziristan. After Times Square, the Pakistan army will be pressurised to extend the war theatre into North Waziristan where the Al- Qaida and Afghan Taliban are holed out as a quid pro quo for the Americans attacking the TTP in South Waziristan.
ALL this signals one critical development: the seamlessness of the Al- Qaida- Taliban network from Afghanistan to Pakistan and a critical phase in the Battle for Pakistan as part of the Battle for Afghanistan. Indeed, this brings us full circle to the beginning of Pakistan.
The Pakistani state and its ruling elites are unfortunately anchored in “political” and “ideological” Islam from the day the Objectives Resolution was constitutionalised in the 1980s. This state has been characterised by a civil- military imbalance that has fed upon the country by spawning non- state Islamic “warriors”. These monsters have now turned upon their creators.
But the state doesn’t know if it is a Pakistani state ( a national concept) or an Islamic state ( a global concept) and how to deal with them. This identity confusion and global rage has bottled up in the minds and breasts of at least three generations of young brainwashed Pakistanis regardless of class. That is why, all other things being equal, a young Pakistani at home or abroad is more likely to be seduced by “ global Islamist” outrage against imperialist and “ state- terrorist” America than a young Muslim originating from India or Africa or South East Asia.
The writer is Editor of The Friday Times
Source: Mail Today