July 5th, 2010
10:56 AM ET

A.M. Security Brief

Legend has it that a senior U.S. official was asked a couple of years ago which worried him more: Iraq or Afghanistan. "Pakistan," came the immediate answer. As commander of U.S. central command, Gen. David Petraeus certainly paid plenty of attention to the shifting security situation in Pakistan, and the threat from disparate Islamist groups there.

He would mesmerize audiences with his encyclopedic knowledge of obscure groups in even more obscure corners of Pakistan, with multicolored Powerpoints. Now that he has "demoted" himself to take direct charge in Afghanistan, he will see at firsthand the cross-border terror dynamic.

Even as al Qaeda has been weakened – according to U.S. officials - other groups in Pakistan have expanded their horizons: Lashkar e Taiba, the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani Network to name but a few.

Previously confined to the mountainous tribal territories, the Pakistani Taliban has expanded its presence in Punjab, the country’s bread-basket and most important province. The Afghan Taliban has a long-established presence in Quetta, the volatile capital of Baluchistan. Then there are a myriad of groups comprising foreign fighters, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, made some revealing comments about this terror landscape last week. Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, Adm. Mullen described Pakistan as “a country now very much under siege from terrorists, internally.”

He should know; by his own count, he has visited Pakistan nearly 20 times since becoming chairman.

“I’m increasingly concerned about the synergy among terrorist groups in that region and their expanding desire and planning to try to kill as many Americans as they possibly can,” he said.

The picture is complicated by overlapping rivalries within Pakistan. The federal government in Islamabad has accused Punjab’s state government of conniving in the Taliban’s growing presence there. In the wake of the deadly bombing of a Sufi shrine in Lahore last week, Punjab officials have promised a crackdown on 17 banned groups. But some, like Lashkar e Taiba, are well-established and well-connected.

Today the Pakistani press is awash with unsourced, unverifiable but plausible reports of meetings between Osama bin Laden and other militant leaders in 2009 – in which the al Qaeda leader is supposed to have called on other groups to turn their attention to the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. And according to the Pakistani security forces, we can add a new name to the alphabet soup of militant groups. It is the Ghazi Force, an affiliate of the Pakistani Taliban with a specialism in high-profile suicide bombings. It’s named for Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was killed in 2007 when Pakistani commandos stormed the Lal Masjid or Red Mosque in Islamabad after it had been taken over by militants. Some of Ghazi’s students are said to belong to the group.

The storming of the Red Mosque, in which about 100 people were killed, is said to have enraged Faisal Shahzad, the man who confessed to the attempted Times Square car bombing. Just one “Muslim soldier” as he described himself, in a new generation of radicalized militants.

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Filed under: Pakistan • Security Brief
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  1. Smith in Oregon

    The Nation of Turkey should totally sever any and all ties it has made and built up with Israel over many decades.

    Turkey should immediately ban all Israeli flights in Turkey's airspace and call upon Russia to supply Turkey with its advanced medium range S-300 anti-aircraft missile battery's in case Israel goes rabid on Turkey again.

    NATO should be demanded by Turkey and other NATO country's to immediately move to punish Israel as per the NATO treaty which entirely makes it clear that attacks upon a NATO nation is an attack upon all NATO nations.

    International and NATO laws dictate and are very clear that attacks upon a NATO flagged ship in International Waters is the same as an attack upon that nation of that ship. The NATO treaty demands a heavy response against Israel.

    Turkey should demand Interpol and the International Courts charge Israeli Officials with International Crimes of Piracy, Execution of its citizens, Theft of it's NATO flagged vessel and supplies on the high seas in International Waters, Torturing it's citizens and Attempting to cover up the evidence of International Crimes against Turkey.

    July 5, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Botos Barnabás

    Dear Jennifer!

    Please, read my letter, because in my opinion my ideas could be interesting
    enoung to publish them in you magazine

    The Origin of Mankind an Animals

    I would like to announce a great sensation. After thirty years' steady search I have
    managed to solve the origin of mankind and animals and Iknow why we live here,
    on this planet called the Earth.

    Where does life come from? This is an old guestion which is still unsolved.Iread
    Plenty of scientific books and listened to scientific argumentations before
    summarizing my theori.
    In my opinion the secret of the origin has been unknown, because the wrong way
    has been chosen when the others have tried to fínd the solution.

    Iown two books with special opinions, but the authors do not pay attention to a
    fact, which could be the proper basic to the search .Why? Maybe, during their
    research, everyone has tried to find their personal profits.
    It was written thousands years ago,that when somebody would find the origin of
    life, it would have to be announced to:' everybody everybody will see and listen to

    I own three books of which I have summarized the origin of life and the fact, why
    it is not infinite. Ihave evidence that UFOs do not exist so human beings are the
    most intelligent in the Universe. I can answer guestions like: Why is the genetic
    code of human beings so similar /99,4% to the code of the chimpanzee?
    We have faulty ideas of life so we go on the wrong way.

    It would be a great pleasure for me if I could find a newspaper or magazine which
    published my ideas and aTV station which transmitted them. We could be much
    cleverer then /Although as Einstein said: The Universe and the supidity of people
    are infinite, but I am not sure about my first idea./
    So I ask for your help so that I can announce my theory, which has not been
    solved for over 11,000 years, when civilization started.

    I have been working hard in my life, but sometimes I have been robbed. I would
    like to keep the secret until I share it with everybody in a press conference. Then I
    gave the knowledge which would be about three books. Then I can be asked and I
    will do answer all the guestions, because my evidence is 100 per cent sure.

    I look forward to answering my letter.
    Yours faithfully: Barnabás Botos

    Rákóczi utca 61

    July 12, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. evan Mark

    Please people learn about how horrible it was under the Taliban:
    You absolutely MUST see this.

    August 11, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |