Aborted attack

Two alert vendors in New York’s Times Square who noticed smoke and firecracker sounds coming out of a parked car have saved the city from another major terrorist attack.  They alerted police who quickly swung into action. Faizal Shahzad, an American citizen of Pakistani origin, who is believed to have packed the car with explosives, has been taken into custody. Meanwhile, Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Teherik-e-Taliban Pakistan, who was believed to have been killed earlier, has claimed responsibility in a video for the aborted attack in New York. The failed attack in Times Square is the latest in a series of attempted assaults on US soil that involve American citizens. It does seem that the US is having to contend with a problem similar to the one Britain has confronted since the July 2005 attacks on the London underground, which is of radicalisation of a section of its citizens. As in Britain, those who have been arrested in the US in recent months in connection with alleged terror plots are homegrown terrorists, and not from some isolated madrassas in distant countries.

In at least two other alleged terror plots involving naturalised American citizens, a Pakistani link has been found. The Times Square plot, which has drawn attention yet again to a Pakistani link, has prompted calls for racial profiling. Not only is such an approach morally reprehensible but also, it is based on the flawed logic that terrorists fit a stereotype. Racial profiling will only end up victimising thousands of innocent people, who have no links to terror.

Rather than engaging in racial profiling, the US government must correct its current flawed approach of putting pressure on Pakistan to act against only those terrorists it believes undermine its own security interests, even as it turns a blind eye towards those who target countries like India. India has been saying for a long time now that the entire terror network in Pakistan needs to be dismantled. It has been underscoring the need to break the ties that Pakistan’s military has with various terror outfits. Unfortunately, the US has not taken India’s counsel seriously. People like Shahzad are able to attempt attacks because of training they receive from Pakistan. This support base must be shattered to make the world safe from terrorism.

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