Archive for the ‘ International Affairs ’ Category

Lessons from Times Square Car Bomb Attack

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the May 1st failed car bomb attack in NYC Times Square, the busiest urban spot in the world.

The car bomb was discovered on Saturday evening after a street vendor spotted smoke coming from a Nissan Pathfinder SUV. Fortunately the street vendor, a Vietnam war vetran had good instincts about smoke and bombs, called 911. The bomb squad despatched to the scene discovered a crude bomb made of propane tanks, petrol, consumer grade fireworks and two clocks with batteries. 

In a video released to the media, the Pakistan Taliban or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, claimed that the attack is revenge for the death of its leader Baitullah Mehsud and the recent killings of the top leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq like Abu Hamza al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

Investigations have revealed that the suspect Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani American who carried out the New York attack, was trained by the militant group in the Mohmand region in Pakistan’s tribal belt and received $15,000 to carry out the attack.  He was arrested at the JFK Airport, just in time while making good his escape, having boarded an Emirates flight.

Now I’m no terrorism expert but few things struck me about the whole incident which should be lessons for the CIA and Obama Administration.

Firstly, Pakistan Taliban as an organisation, even to this day, can raise funds in USA and have assets in the country. Its members too can freely enter US. Why are we have to fighting a 65 billion war for Afghanistan (war cost overtaking that of Iraq) while still funding terror organisations. To top it all in ‘partnership’ with Pakistan, the country which according to your own Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the hotbed of terrorism.  Pakistan throughout history has nurtured the Taliban and protected it even when it pretended, under American pressure, to be fighting it.

Secondly, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has boldly claimed responsibility for the attack. Does it make you scarier as a terror organisation when you claim responsibility for something that failed? Is the Pakistan Taliban still playing on American paranoia and obsession to fight the War on Global Terror that it even claims responsibility for a failed bombing?

A little forsight could have saved lot of trouble for the Obama Administration. The Administration should have let poor Faisal Sahzad slip out of the country, instead of arresting him, to perhaps a ‘hero’s welcome’ in Pakistan. Reports in media suggested that Faisal apparently was not the brightest. On the day of the attack, he left the keys to the getaway car and the key to his apartment in the SUV with the bomb in it. Maybe we should have just let him out to join the Taliban and he could destroy them from within…… Commonsensical Right?

Photo : Copyright with Fox News

Courage of Conviction

April 12 and 13, 2010 saw an unprecedented Global Nuclear Security Summit being organised in Washington. Leaders and top officials from 47 countries attended the largest summit hosted by a US President in more than six decades, agreeing to strengthen existing international safeguards for nuclear material and to enhance security. The countries that participated in the deliberations including the leaders of Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Germany, Spain and France.

Starting with his presidential campaign, Obama has pushed for a tighter safeguarding regime to secure all vulnerable nuclear stockpiles and material within four years, breaking up black markets, using financial leverage and interdicting transport of dangerous nuclear material. As part part of a series of efforts in his administration to reduce the nuclear threat, President Barack Obama set out the contours of  disarmament and outlined his vision for a nuclear-free world in a speech at Prague. This Summit took place a year after that famous speech.

Nuclear technology has long been recognized as capable of both tremendous benefits and tremendous destruction. His predecessor George Bush, had launched the the Proliferation Security Initiative or PSI in 2003. More than 90 countries currently support PSI. These countries resolved to cooperate in intercepting illicit shipments of nuclear technology and other dangerous items. President Obama strengthened  the PSI and the International efforts to curb the danger of nuclear material winding up in the wrong hands and to bring other international initiatives together to take a more comprehensive approach toward addressing the threat.

But the Non Proliferation lobby that advocate for a reduction in nuclear arms and enhanced security believe the goals of the Summit fall short of thoroughly addressing the real problem. But while applauding the effort, the general feeling at the Summit is that more stringent measures are needed to prevent terrorists from accessing nuclear material and launching a potentially devastating attack. When both US and Russia continue to have stockpile of thousands of kilogrammes of highly enriched uranium, it makes it more difficult to persuade smaller countries to abandon their stockpiles. The tendency is for other countries to say “don’t tell us to get rid of ours, you need to do more to get rid of yours.”

And the debate will go on and it’s only fair. But what goes unnoticed is the conviction with President Obama has achieved a drastic shift in US defence policy with a pledge broaden the long standing efforts to take back the dangerous fuel and convert civilian reactors to low-enriched uranium, to give a greater role in the effort to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear monitoring body and pushing the policy not use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have them.