Al-Qaeda Bombing of the Islamabad Marriott

With the presidential debate on foreign policy and national security coming up this week, readers will want to be keenly aware of the developments inside Pakistan, especially the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad this weekend. Below are some resource links of note, the first three being my own initial looks this weekend followed by a couple of other excellent sources, each with links to additional pertinent info.

Read and also follow the links from here:

My initial take has been that the CIA was targeted. The potential of a Danish intelligence office there being targeted (in al-Qaeda’s War on Animation) has also ben raised since. However, it has been revealed that President Zardari had planned to hold a PPP party gathering at the Marriott. At the last minute, under security warnings, the site was changed to the Prime Minister’s residence, less than a half mile away. This may indeed be the specific target al-Qaeda sought to strike within the Marriott building, unaware of the venue change.

It is important to consider domestic Pakistani political divisions in order to understand when and where the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance in Pakistan would strike at Zardari, Gilani or other figures on their hit list with a massive bombing. They will not likely risk killing or injuring members of Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party, PPP opponents (and political figures to the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance) and vocally supporting anti-American and anti-Western Pakistani policy. Why al-Qaeda would strike a PPP-exclusive gathering is precisely the same reason they would not strike a joint session of parliament. Some have suggested that they would have bombed the joint session of parliament earlier in the day if they could have. That thinking is folly and generally the line put forth by the Pakistani government in order to pat themselves on the back and ‘prove’ to the country how impenetrable security is there.

Nothing is impenetrable. It’s a matter of will and internal connections. And, as can be seen with the Marriott bombing, if you put up barriers away from the building, terrorists will simply build bigger and better bombs to damage from the stand-off distance.

With Senator Obama’s remarks this summer about sending US ground forces into Pakistan, a remark he quickly distanced himself from, it is sure to be an issue that comes up again. You would do well to understand the situation as clearly as possible before one listens to politicians speaking of the same. They, like you, are intelligence consumers. They should never be your intelligence source.

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