Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Pakistan has come under renewed spotlight following the arrest of a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent for a failed bombing in New York’s Times Square and claims of responsibility by the Pakistani Taliban.
It is too early to confirm the plot was tied to any of a multitude of militant groups operating in Pakistan. Indeed, security experts have been sceptical about the claim by the Pakistan Taliban saying they doubt it has the reach to strike in Manhattan.
But if the Pakistani connection is established, the one area that will almost immediately come under focus is North Waziristan, the rugged tribal belt in the northwest that is home to a complex web of militant groups, more so since the Pakistani army launched an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan last October.
Bill Roggio writing in The Long War Journal quotes a U.S. official as saying that North Waziristan is the heart of al Qaeda’s external operations network. Previous al Qaeda plots, such as the attempted suicide attacks in New York’s subway system in September 2009 by Najibullah Zazi and his accomplices, were hatched in North Waziristan. Zazi, an Afghan citizen, travelled to North Waziristan for more than three-and-a-half months of training.