Al-Qaeda 'sowing' chaos in Pak

Al-Qaeda 'sowing' chaos in Pak

Militant outfit strengthening bases, supporting local Taliban in deadly strikes


One indication came on April 19, when a truck parked inside a Qaeda compound in South Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal areas, erupted in a fireball when it was struck by a CIA missile.
American intelligence officials say that the truck had been loaded with high explosives, apparently to be used as a bomb, and that while its ultimate target remains unclear, the bomb would have been more devastating than the suicide bombing that killed more than 50 people at the Marriott Hotel.
Al-Qaeda’s leaders — a predominantly Arab group of Egyptians, Saudis and Yemenis, as well as other nationalities like Uzbeks — for years have nurtured ties to Pakistani militant groups like the Taliban operating in the mountains of Pakistan. The foreign operatives have historically set their sights on targets loftier than those selected by the local militant groups, aiming for spectacular attacks against the West, but they may see new opportunity in the recent violence.
Intelligence officials say the Taliban advances in Swat and Buner, which are closer to Islamabad than to the tribal areas, have already helped al-Qaeda in its recruiting efforts. The recruiting campaign is aimed at young fighters across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

‘They smell blood’

“They smell blood, and they are intoxicated by the idea of a jihadist takeover in Pakistan,” said Bruce O Riedel, a former analyst for the CIA who recently led the Obama administration’s policy review of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It remains unlikely that Islamic militants could seize power in Pakistan, given the strength of Pak military. But an intelligence official expressed concern that recent successes by the Taliban in extending territorial gains could foreshadow the creation of “mini-Afghanistans” around Pakistan that would allow militants even more freedom to plot attacks.
American government officials and terrorism experts said that al-Qaeda’s increasing focus on a local strategy was partly born from necessity, as the CIA’s intensifying air strikes have reduced the group’s ability to hit targets in the West.
According to an assessment, Qaeda has adapted to the deaths of its leaders by shifting “to conduct decentralised operations under small, well-organised regional groups” within Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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