Since The Red Mosque was raided there have been more than 150 deaths from retaliatory attacks by Islamic militants throughout Pakistan. The busy, and prolific man behind the attacks? The star who has been appearing in the recent flurry of videotapes from Al Qaida, urging Pakistani Muslims to revolt or else “Musharraf will annihilate you.”Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the Al Qaeda No. 2.
From Newsweek: After years in which Zawahiri seemed constantly on the run, his alleged orchestration of last week’s attacks would be further evidence that Qaeda and Taliban forces are newly empowered and have consolidated control of a safe haven along the Pakistani border.
According to the National Intelligence Estimate out of Washington, Al Qaeda is resurgent in Pakistan—and more centrally organized than it has been at any time since 9/11.
The NIE—a periodic intel assessment that is considered the most authoritative issued by the U.S. government—concluded Al Qaeda has “regenerated key elements” of its ability to attack the United States. These include a sanctuary in Pakistan’s tribal regions of North Waziristan and Bajaur, and an intact hierarchy of top leadership and operational lieutenants.
But Al- Zawahiri’s jihad against Pakistan has provoked a “potentially serious ideological split within Al Qaeda over whether he is growing too powerful, and has become obsessed with toppling Musharraf”. An anti-Zawahiri faction within Al Qaida believes that the man’s ultra violent tendencies might be drawing too much attention to these new safe havens.
…they fear that Zawahiri is inviting the Pakistani leader’s wrath, prematurely opening up another battlefront before the jihadists have properly consolidated their position.
A senior U.S. official involved in counterterrorism policy, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was addressing sensitive matters, agrees that there are tensions between Al Qaeda’s Egyptian and Libyan factions, as well as between Saudi and Central Asian elements.
U.S. counterterrorism operatives have been reluctant to cross into Waziristan for fear of violating Pakistani sovereignty and upsetting Musharraf.
But Hank Crumpton, a longtime CIA senior official and former counterterrorism coordinator for the State Department, says U.S. reluctance must be overcome, because Musharraf can’t deal with the problem alone. The Pakistani leader sent more than 100,000 troops to the tribal areas last year, but “they lacked the requisite counterinsurgency skills,”
U.S. and Pakistani officials hope that Zawahiri overreaches in his zeal to kill Musharraf, and they get an intel break on his whereabouts. Crumpton says the United States needs to lead an effort with anti-Taliban local tribes, some of whom have been targeted by Al Qaeda. “If we are attacked here [in the United States], which we will be, it almost certainly will have originated from that territory. What will we do then?”
The Bush administration threatened to launch attacks into Pakistani territory if General Musharraf doesn’t rein the militants in.
Tony Snow said on Wednesday, ...”it is clearly of the utmost importance to go in there and deal with the problem in the tribal areas”.
Let’s hope that that Bush stays true to his word, and before “the jihadists consolidate their position”.
Oops, I almost forgot…Hat tip: Anonymous.
Biggg Hat tip to Wiserbud for his fantabulous photoshop skilz.
Pakistan says, “No, you may not attack us”. Muslihoon’s got the goods.