Faisal Shahzad conspiracies run amok

If my first thought after hearing about the attempt to bomb Times Square New York was ‘Please don’t let it be a Pakistani,’ my first thought after hearing the name Faisal Shahzad was, ‘here come the conspiracy theories!’ And the regular contributors of ignorance and misinformation have not failed to deliver. From TV broadcasters to print newspapers to fools in the streets, the silly season of conspiracy theories has officially begun.

News agencies across the world are running photos such as this, that suggest the Faisal Shahzad case is a “CIA Drama,” despite the fact that it doesn’t make any sense at all for the CIA to do this.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES EMBARRASSING PAKISTAN

Please, think about this for one minute and you will see how absurd this is. The CIA is already using drones to attack militants. They are already working together with ISI to infiltrate militant groups and capture or kill jihadis. Why would they need to do some stupid drama like this? The Nation says that it is to give an excuse to increase drone attacks, but they don’t need an excuse. Already there are drone attacks.

This is truly embarrassing. How do you think the rest of the world sees us when they open their newspapers and see such as this? Let me tell you, it is not good.

People are saying that TTP could not possibly have the reach to carry out a bomb attack in America, but Rahimullah Yusufzai points out that this is ignoring the complexity of the situation.

However, the TTP would not refuse to avail an opportunity if someone like Shahzad were to come along and offer his services to attack targets in the US. It cannot possibly infiltrate its men into the US, provide finances or execute a terrorist attack from afar. But Hakimullah, Qari Hussain or one of the several TTP chapters would be glad to provide inspiration, impart bomb-making training or record a farewell “fidayee” message if someone living in the West volunteered to do the job on their behalf. In particular, converts to Islam in Western countries are prized by groups like Al-Qaeda, as the converts could easily live and travel there without arousing much suspicion. The second prized category are Muslims living in Western societies, as many of them turn to religion and are generally better aware, and critical, of some of the unjust policies of the US and its Nato allies towards Islamic countries.

The case of the Jordanian suicide bomber Dr Humam al-Khalil al-Balawi well illustrates the readiness of the TTP to own anyone willing to work for a joint cause. He wasn’t recruited by the TTP in Jordan, but presented himself to Hakimullah and Qari Hussain in South Waziristan and offered to blow up the CIA station in Afghanistan’s Khost province after having gained the trust of his Jordanian and American handlers.

In his farewell video recorded in the company of Hakimullah, the Jordanian bomber says he was going to avenge Baitullah’s death in a US drone strike by attacking the CIA’s Khost station that oversaw the drones programme and gathered intelligence on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. In the video, Hakimullah says that avenging Baitullah’s death had already been on his mind and then Allah sent the Jordanian Muslim brother to him to offer his services to take revenge from the American CIA agents.

Today’s Nation asks “whether he was really a ‘set up’ to trap Pakistan.” Not content to simply attack America, though, Nation goes on to accuse Gen. Kayani and our soldiers in the armed forces.

However, it is the military leadership’s strange silence to these threats that is unnerving given how they are sworn to defend this country and the nation from all physical external threats. Yet we have seen no response to the drones that have been killing primarily Pakistani civilians, despite there now being a demonstrated capability to strike these down. In fact at one point we were informed that the drone attacks were done with the blessings of Pakistan’s civil and military leadership – and now the direct threats from US officials have been met with a stony response. Is the military only capable of taking action against its own tribal people now?

This is a real shame, when a conspiracy theory runs so amok that it results in a newspaper accusing our own soldiers!

The News should be commended for not jumping on some half-cooked conspiracy theory in its editorial today.

If he was trained by the TTP or Al Qaeda the training was as poor as the crude device he made, and here we might question if there is a tactical shift by extremists who want to attack America. There may be as much to be gained (for them) by a cheap unsophisticated – and failed – attempt as there is by a complex multi-target operation. There are many men, and probably women as well, who are sympathetic to extremist groups and goals and who may offer themselves as recruits or find themselves approached by the scouting parties of the TTP and Al Qaeda. Radical preachers on the Internet reach out to them; they are ‘under the radar’ and, unless their behavioural patterns change in a way that exposes them, invisible to the hunters. Lastly, the ‘something electrical’ that was found in a shoe by airport security people in Karachi was not a bomb, and may have been something as innocent as a ‘massage shoe’ – but it could have been a part of one and the airport staff were right to be careful. Bomb or no bomb, explosion or no explosion, Shahzad has carved another facet on the dirty face of terrorism and all of us, everywhere, will sleep less easily.

We have suffered enough at the hands of jihadi militants trying to force us back into medieval times. How many more of our brothers must be killed, and how many more of our sons will be lured by this sickness by these merchants of death? We cannot afford to continue these conspiracy theories and distractions. The price is too high to pay.

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