Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief-November 5, 2010
Massive suicide blast kills 50 and wounds 100 in Kohat; Militant groups reportedly leaving North Waziristan for Orakzai and Kurram; al-Qaeda in Pakistan “communicating and collaborating” with affiliates in the Arabian Peninsula; Pakistan “anxious” over Obama’s trip to India.
At least 50 people were killed and another 100 injured after a massive explosion tore through a mosque in the Kohat Frontier Region (FR) of Orakzai agency during Friday prayers. The attack occurred in Akhurwal village in the Darra Adam Khel area of FR Kohat. According to reports, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives just as prayers concluded when worshipers were exiting the mosque. The blast was so powerful that it caused part of the roof of the mosque to collapse, trapping dozens of victims under the debris. Officials expect the death toll in today’s attack to rise significantly as they comb through the rubble in search of survivors. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attack. Reports claim that anti-Taliban tribal elders may have been worshiping at the mosque when the blast occurred. 
The intense tempo of U.S. drone operations is reportedly driving militants out of their bases in North Waziristan and into more northerly tribal agencies like Orakzai and Kurram. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, militants that were once based in North Waziristan, are now “aggressively laying the groundwork” for a “new base of operations” in Kurram and Orakzai. Both of these tribal agencies have seen far fewer drone attacks than North and South Waziristan. While U.S. officials were said to be aware of the development, they could not confirm any large-scale migration of militants out of North Waziristan. 
Government security forces killed 8 militants on Thursday in Orakzai tribal agency. Helicopter gunships bombed militant hideouts in the Madori area of Upper Orakzai Agency. The Daily Times reports that the Madori area is a stronghold for Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan fighters. 
Officials in Washington believe that Osama bin Laden and other members of al-Qaeda’s central leadership are providing “strategic and philosophical guidance” to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. intelligence officials have observed “increased collaboration and communion” between the two groups, with some U.S. officials claiming that the release of Osama bin Laden’s most recent video was a signal to AQAP to launch last week’s package-bomb plot. According to the article, al Qaeda, based in the tribal areas of Pakistan, is providing the guidance and instruction for plots that are then executed by the significantly less constrained AQAP.
A new video surfaced on Thursday, featuring the number two figure in al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In the video, entitled “Who Will Avenge the Scientist Aafia Siddiqui,” Zawahiri attacks the Pakistani government for its failure to secure the release of Aafia Siddiqui and calls on Muslims to secure her release through “jihad.” In September, Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years in prison for attempting to kills U.S. soldiers after she was captured in Afghanistan. 
President Obama’s decision not to visit Pakistan when he makes a three-day trip to India next week, has reportedly “sparked anxiety” among Pakistani government officials who fear that his visit may impact the balance of the power in the region. Pakistan’s concerns reportedly revolve around the President’s decision to stay at the Taj Hotel, which was the most prominent site targeted during the Mumbai terror attacks in September 2008. Pakistanis are also said to be on edge over the Obama administration’s failure to engage India on the issue of Kashmir and the growing civil nuclear partnership between the U.S. and India.
The United States Treasury announced on Thursday that it was implementing new sanctions against extremist groups based in Pakistan who have targeted India. The Treasury department said that it will freeze the assets of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), as well as ban U.S. citizens from contributing money to these organizations. While these groups have already been targeted by the Treasury, yesterday’s sanctions go one step further, targeting specific individuals within these outfits as well as known front organizations used by the groups to finance their terror activities. Thursday’s announcement comes on the eve of President Obama’s trip to India.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, has issued a 48 hour ban on carrying weapons in Karachi. The ban comes as security forces in Karachi prepare for the funeral of Imran Farooq, a leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) who was murdered in September. Entire parts of Karachi, including all markets and commercials centers, have been ordered to close down for the funeral which is scheduled for Saturday.