The tragic terrorist attack in Kenya where militants killed dozens of innocents including women and children at a shopping mall seems far away from Pakistan, but it struck close to home when it was reported that the leader of the jihadi group al Shabaab Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr was first connected into the jihadi circles while studying in Pakistan in the 1990s.
During the 1990s, of course, the jihadi industry was sanctioned not only by our own agencies but by the West who saw the militants as a counterweight to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. While most of the world has turned its back on these groups, however, Pakistan continues to be used as a hub of terrorist activity.
A few months ago, a global al Qaeda technical cell was busted in Lahore, and al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has called for none other than Pakistan to be the new ‘safe haven’ for jihadi terrorists.
It appears that the message is out, too. Recently, an American citizens known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum who had previously fought in Syria was arrested trying to travel to Pakistan to join al Qaeda.
This is not the first time would-be jihadis from the West have made Pakistan their destination for introduction to the world of terrorism. In 2009, five American Muslims were arrested by Pakistani authorities in Lahore while trying to make their way to a terrorist training camp.
Not all would-be terrorists are caught before making it to Pakistan, though, and some are not caught before leaving either. Earlier this week a 29-year-old Pakistani man was arrested in London in an anti-terrorism operation after recently returning from a trip to Pakistan.
Even our ‘all weather friend’ China is losing patience with terrorists using Pakistan as a base for recruiting and training. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif surely hoped that his first meeting with the Chinese would be an opportunity to bring good news home, but what he brought back were more warnings on Uygur militants training in Pakistan.
International trade can overcome barriers that seem otherwise insurmountable. China and the US may have very little in common and be natural competitors for bother economic and military power, but a war between the two is almost impossible due to the trade that binds the two powers together. Not all exports are the same, though. Pakistan’s booming jihad industry threatens to leave us isolated and suffering not only economically, but like the dealer in tainted medicine whose own family are poisoned by his handiwork.