Pakistan Security Brief - February 10, 2011

Suicide bomber kills 31 in Mardan; Disparate accounts on Davis case; Video released of Davis questioning; Davis accused of “encroaching on ISI turf;” U.S. consulate refuses to hand over driver; U.S. sanctions on Haqqani and Al-Salam; Leiter: “al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan at weakest point in decade;” Pakistan constructs fourth nuclear reactor; Successful test firing of Hatf-VII missile; India and Pakistan to resume talks; Three accused of spying dead in NWA; Suspected bombers arrested in FATA; Balochistan gas line blown up; Two killed in Quetta.

 

Suicide Bomber in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

  • A teenage suicide bomber wearing a school boy uniform blew himself up at an army parade ground in Mardan, killing thirty-one people. The assailant was able to get through six checkpoints by wearing a uniform for Aziz Bhatti College, a school located inside the compound.  Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq has claimed responsibility for the attack.  He said it was meant to avenge the men and women killed by U.S. drone attacks and by security operations in the FATA.[viii]
 

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • On Wednesday, U.S. and Pakistani officials each provided disparate accounts on the case of Raymond Davis, the U.S. national charged with killing two Pakistani men.  According to the Washington Post, preliminary Pakistani government investigations have stated that Davis fired five shots at the men from his vehicle and then exited his car before firing twice more at each of them as they lay on the ground.  A U.S. official provides a different story, saying that Davis fired five shots, all from the inside of his vehicle. Pakistani television outlet Dunya has also aired a video, recorded during Davis’ questioning by authorities following the incident. In the recording, Davis identifies himself as an employee with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, but also states later that he had been doing consulting work for the consular general in Lahore. He also stated his affiliation with the "RAO," referring to the Americans' Regional Affairs Office.[i]
  • Anonymous Pakistani officials have told ABC News that the two men killed by Raymond Davis were members of the Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI). They disclosed that in late January, Davis was requested to leave a restricted area of Lahore by the military. His cell phone was then tracked, revealing calls made to the Waziristan tribal areas. According to the officials, Pakistani intelligence officers perceived Davis as a danger who was "encroaching on their turf." U.S. officials have disputed these accounts and have maintained that Davis was a member of the administrative staff of the U.S. embassy.[ii]
  • The Express Tribune has reported thatthe U.S. consulate has refused to hand over the driver accused of running over a motorcyclist while trying to rescue Davis. Punjab authorities have allegedly requested the consulate to hand over both the driver and the vehicle involved in the incident on January 27. This is the second time that the U.S. consulate has turned down the request.[iii]
  • On Wednesday, United States authorities instituted sanctions on two Afghan nationals alleged to be a part of the financial network that supports al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Haqqani militant group in Pakistan. Said Jan Abd Al-Salam and Khalil Al-Rahman Haqqani were added to the Specially Designated Global Terrorists list by the U.S. Treasury because of their links to the groups. Haqqani was added to the list due to his familial relationship with Sirajuddin Haqqani, who leads the Haqqani group in Pakistan while Al-Salam has been accused of providing weapons to al Qaeda.[iv]
  • In a hearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Michael E. Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, testified that al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan was "at one of its weakest points in the past decade."  However, he pointed to al Qaeda’s ability to innovate in reponse to increased pressure on its leadership, specifically referencing al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).[v]
 

Pakistani Nuclear Program

  • A U.S. think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), has reported that Pakistan appears to be constructing a fourth military nuclear reactor. The organization has obtained commercial satellite images taken in mid-January, which show “what appears to be a fourth reactor under construction at Pakistan’s Khushab nuclear site.” This follows recent reports alleging that the country has doubled its nuclear arsenal over the last four years. The Pakistani military has also announced its successful test-firing of the Hatf-VII missile, capable of carrying warheads up to 360 miles away. [vi]

 

Indo-Pakistani Relations

  • The governments for India and Pakistan have agreed to resume talks on all issues, following a hold in dialogue resulting from the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The BBC reports that the talks will focus on the disputed area of Kashmir, joint counter-terrorism efforts, economic issues, and smaller territorial disagreements.  Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vishnu Prakash said, “The two countries will work to narrow the trust deficit so that we can discuss all bilateral issues. We are picking up the threads again, we have to move forward step-by-step. We are taking baby steps.”[vii]
 

FATA

  • Three bullet-riddled bodies were found in North Waziristan on Thursday, including the bodies of two tribal police officers. A note was also included with the corpses, which accused the men of acting as spies. The men had been kidnapped in January on allegations that they had been passing information to the U.S. to assist them in drone strikes in the area.[ix]
  • Six suspected would-be suicide bombers were arrested in an operation in Sadiqabad on Thursday. A senior security official, Sohail Khan, said that one of the militants was a female, who was arrested with the suicide vest strapped to her body. The six were apprehended and taken in for questioning.[x]
 

Attack in Balochistan

  • On Thursday, militants in Balochistan blew up the largest gas pipeline in the province for a second time this week. Senior administration official Anwar Durrani said, “It was the major pipeline. Militants dynamited it overnight only a few hours after the authorities repaired it.” Gas supplies have consequently been suspended to thousands of consumers in the area. The Baloch Republican Army militant group has claimed responsibility for both attacks this week.[xi]
  • Two men were killed and two injured in Quetta after unidentified gunmen opened fire in Shahbaz Town on Wednesday.  Mazarin Baloch, a spokesman of the Baloch Nationalist Liberation Army, claimed responsibility for the killings.[xii]
 
 


[viii] “Pakistan attack: 'Schoolboy' suicide bomber hits Mardan,” BBC News, February 10, 2011. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12413469
[i] Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, “U.S., Pakistani officials at diplomatic odds in fatal shooting,” Washington Post, February 10, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/09/AR2011020906775_pf.html
[ii] Nick Schifrin, “Did Ray Davis Shoot Two Pakistani Agents?” ABC News, February 9, 2011. Available at
[iv] “US targets 2 Taliban, Al-Qaeda money men,” AFP, February 9, 2011. Available at
[v] Peter Finn, “Terrorist threat may be at most 'heightened state' since 9/11, Napolitano says,” Washington Post, February 10, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/09/AR2011020906648.html
[vi]“Pakistan appears to expand nuclear site – report,” Dawn, February 10, 2011. Available at
[vii]“India and Pakistan agree to resume peace moves,” BBC News, February 10, 2011. Available at
[ix] “Three accused of spying for US found dead in North Waziristan,” Dawn, February 10, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/10/three-accused-of-spying-for-us-found-dead-in-north-waziristan.html
[x] "Woman 'would-be suicide bomber' arrested in Bajaur," Dawn, February 9, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/10/woman-would-be-suicide-bomber-arrested-in-bajaur.html
[xi] “Militants blow up gas pipeline in Balochistan,” Dawn, February 10, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/10/militants-blow-up-gas-pipeline-in-balochistan-2.html
[xii] “2 brothers shot dead in Quetta,” Daily Times, February 10, 2011. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\02\10\story_10-2-2011_pg7_10
 http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan-security-brief/pakistan-security-brief-february-10-2011-0