Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Times Square bombing; was the inspiration from the U.S. or Pakistan?


times squareThe failed car bomb attack on New York’s Times Square this weekend is almost certain to rekindle questions about a “jihadi highway” where citizens of western countries, often radicalised at home, seek either inspiration or training from one of many militant groups based in Pakistan.

According to a U.S. law enforcement source, Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American arrested on suspicion of driving the car into Times Square this weekend, told authorities he was acting alone. But investigators are also looking into a recent trip he made to Pakistan to see if he had links to Islamist militants based there, which include al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and a host of Punjab-based groups and splinter organisations, some originally linked to the fight against India in Kashmir.

In Pakistan, security sources said police had made some arrests, including of family members, in connection with the attack.  An intelligence official said Shahzad had received militant training in northwest Pakistan near the garrison town of Kohat. The area around Kohat is a stronghold of Tariq Afridi, the main Pakistani Taliban commander in the region.

Any training Shahzad did receive in Pakistan (and let’s remember that he has only been arrested so far rather than found guilty) was unlikely to have been particularly extensive given the rather amateurish nature of the car bomb he is accused of assembling.