NPR logo Pakistan Taliban Behind Times Sq Attack: AG Holder


Pakistan Taliban Behind Times Sq Attack: AG Holder

The U.S. has its armed drones which are used to kill suspected and known terrorists in Pakistan and the Taliban there had Faisal Shahzad.

At least that's what we're left to think after Sunday news show appearances by Obama Administration officials.

Both Attorney General Eric Holder and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said the administration had evidence that implicated the Pakistan Taliban in last weekend's attempted Times Square carbombing by alleged bomber Shahzad.

A snippet
from the Associated Press:

"We know that they helped facilitate it; we know that they helped direct it," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "And I suspect that we are going to come up with evidence which shows that they helped to finance it. They were intimately involved in this plot."

John Brennan, the president's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, made similar remarks, linking the bomber to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP.

Neither official said what the new evidence was.

The Pakistan Taliban actually claimed responsibility for the failed bombing right after it became public. But U.S. counterterrorism officials cautioned the public against accepting that claim since terrorist groups have been known to take responsibility for attacks they've had no hand in. It's a cheap form of psychological warfare.

But apparently the Pakistani Taliban wasn't lying, if Holder and Brennan are correct.

If the evidence is right, then it makes it even more important that the bomb was a dud since, if it had been successful, it not only would have created horrible casualties in the heart of one of America's most iconic cities, but it would have been a propaganda coup of the highest order for the Taliban.

Linking the attempted bombing to the Pakistani Taliban could have some important near-term effects for the Obama Administration.

The administration has been criticized for significantly building on the Bush Administration's use of drone attacks in targeted killings of known and suspected terrorists in Pakistan's tribally governed regions. The failed bombing could strengthen the Obama Administration's case for making such attacks.

A successful car bomb might also help the Obama Administration increase the size of the fire under the Pakistani government in the fight against its domestic Taliban, a fight in which the Islamabad government has sometimes been ambivalent since there've been links between the government and the Taliban who have been viewed as allies against the Indians.

But the attempted bombing could provide renewed strength to critics of the Obama Administration's tack of giving some terrorist suspects civilian criminal court trials. It could allow them to argue that since the administration is using military means — that is missiles fired from drones — to kill Pakistani Taliban, that an operative of the same group who is captured can be subjected to military tribunals.