Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief-November 18, 2010
New details continue to emerge about “imminent” al Qaeda terror attack in Western Europe; Secretary Gates acknowledges Pakistan could be doing more to fight terror; Islamabad set to “deepen” military cooperation with China; Pakistani’s Ambassador to the U.S. criticizes media coverage of the flood crisis.
EU Terror Plot
Much of Western Europe, particularly Germany, remains on heightened alert as new details continue to emerge about an “imminent” plot by al Qaeda linked militants to carry out Mumbai-style attacks in the West. In an interview with the New York Times, a senior US intelligence official said 25 fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda in Pakistan, were organized into cells of “3 to 5 members” and charged with carrying out Mumbai-style “commando” raids in Britain, France, and Germany. Since late September, it is believed that as many as 10 of these fighters have been killed in U.S. drone strikes in North Waziristan. However, the remainder of these fighters are still “at large” and yesterday’s terror warning was based on new evidence that these survivors might still be planning to strike. It has also been reported, that some of these militants may have already returned to Europe, where they are being led by a man who goes by the alias “Mauritani.” Although little is known about “Mauritani,” intelligence officials believe that he has ties to militant Islamist activities in Africa. Concurrently, German officials are investigating suspicious luggage containing a timer, batteries, and wires, that was discovered on a flight bound for Munich from Namibia. Meanwhile, German counterterrorism officials have increased “visible and invisible” security measures all over the country, while on Thursday soccer stadiums were added to a list of potential targets.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said yesterday that although Pakistan has recently started to seriously target militants within its border, he is not yet comfortable with the amount of progress the country has made combating terror. Speaking at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, Secretary Gates admitted that Pakistan is still not doing all that the United States has asked, but that now “they are doing things that we would have been skeptical they would do even a year, year and a half ago.”
The Special U.S. Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, dismissed the possibility that General Pervez Musharraf would be able to stage a successful return to power in the 2013 elections. Holbrooke told reporters that the former President, “has about as much chance of coming back to power as (former Soviet) President (Mikhail) Gorbachev.” Ambassador Holbrooke also used the opportunity to reaffirm the U.S. position that any effort to return to military rule in Pakistan would have disastrous implications for the country. 
Pakistan confirmed on Thursday its plans to “deepen” military cooperation with China and purchase missiles and flight-system technology from the People’s Republic. At an estimated cost of 1.6 billion dollars, plans are in the works to buy SD-10 mid-range homing missiles and system-updates for Pakistan’s fleet of 250 JF-17 Thunder jet fighters. According to reports, Pakistan and China may also be working on a deal to purchase as many as four state of the art surface-to-air missile systems.
A new report by McClatchy news service, exposes the growing fear that ethnic gang violence may pull Karachi, Pakistan’s largest and most prosperous metropolis, into an uncontrolled spiral of bloodshed. Over 1,300 people have been killed this year in gang violence that has pitted the city’s Mohajir, Pashtun, and Baluchi populations against one another. Karachi’s ethnic violence is compounded by the presence of militant groups like al-Qeada, the TTP, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, all of whom have a sizeable presence in the city. This presence was vividly demonstrated last Thursday when attackers denoted a massive truck bomb at CID headquarters in Karachi, killing 18. For more information about the CID bombing and militants groups operating in Karachi, please click HERE.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani criticized US media outlets for failing to properly report on the plight of Pakistanis affected by last summer’s flood crisis. Haqqani told a group of visiting Congressional staffers that US news agencies focused “unduly on political and security implications of the floods” and not the “20 million people” that were actually impacted by the disaster. While thanking the United States for its nearly $500 million dollar donation following the floods, he hoped the American people would turn their “focus away from the political debates” and see “the humanitarian dimension of the tragedy.”