Overseas, an Enemy That May Mutate and Even Grow

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Washington, May 9 (ANI): The bungled car bombing attempt in Times Square with suspected links to the Pakistani Taliban has resulted in Washington and the Obama Administration being confronted by a new and disturbing, question-Have the stepped-up attacks in Pakistan - notably the Predator drone strikes - actually made Americans less safe?

Nine months ago, US President Barack Obama's strategy review saw only Al Qaeda as having the ambition to take the war to America's skies and streets. In contrast, most of the Taliban and other militant groups were regarded as fragmented, regional insurgencies whose goals stuck close to the territory their tribal ancestors have fought over for centuries.

Now, six months and a few attempted bombings later, including the near-miss in New York last weekend, nothing looks quite that simple.

As commanders remind each other, in all wars the enemy gets a vote, too. Increasingly, it looks like these enemies have voted to combine talents, if not forces, the New York Times reports.

The notion that the various groups are at least thinking alike worries Bruce Riedel, who a year ago was a co-author of President Obama's first review of strategy in the region.

"There are two separate movements converging here. The ideology of global jihad has been bought into by more and more militants, even guys who never thought much about the broader world. And that is disturbing, because it is a force multiplier for Al Qaeda," said Riedel, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

A year after Obama's now-famous speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, Pakistanis talk less about outreach than Predator strikes. And White House officials say they suspect that their strategy of raising pressure may explain the amateurish nature of the recent bombing attempts.

The militants, they argue, no longer enjoy the luxury of time to train their bombers. To linger at training camps is to invite being spotted by a Predator.

Of course, the United States might more effectively identify citizens who pose a threat. But, similarly, terrorist groups could find ways to more effectively train recruits.

As Riedel notes: "You don't need a Ph.D. in electrical engineering to build a car bomb. You don't even need to be literate." (ANI)

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