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In a sign that the Pakistanis have done significant damage to its network, al-Qaeda operations now primarily target the Pervez Musharraf regime, seen as a cornerstone to the American-led war on terror. The kidnapping of two Chinese industrial experts aims to drive a wedge between Musharraf and his oldest ally:
Al-Qaeda linked militants involved in the fatal Chinese hostage crisis targeted Chinese in Pakistan to sabotage president Pervez Musharraf's economic agenda and avenge their comrades' deaths, analysts said.
They said the abduction on October 8 of two Chinese engineers working on a dam in the wild tribal region of South Waziristan was a pressure tactic to secure the release of Al-Qaeda militants detained in army operations in the region which hugs the Afghan frontier. ...
Since March Pakistani forces, sweeping Al-Qaeda and allied fighters from the rugged frontier district, have killed 246 foreign and local militants, a regional army commander said at the weekend. Troop casualties have been high, with at least 170 soldiers and paramilitaries killed in the same period. Hundreds of militants, some foreign and others from among local tribes, have been arrested.
Defence analyst retired Brigadier A.R. Siddiqui said "the feeling of revenge is very much there" among militants. "They first tried to kill Musharraf and now they want to hit him hard through other ways," Siddiqui told AFP.
AQ's new focus on Musharraf may indicate an inability to strike outside of its immediate area. The Spanish just captured seven AQ-affiliated terrorists planning a major bombing in Andalusia, but AQ has been fairly quiet outside the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. A great deal of credit for this goes to the Musharraf regime, which has pursued AQ relentlessly after the two assassination attempts.
Of course, it hardly helps Musharraf with either his allies or his people when Pakistan has to stage a hostage rescue from a man who the US released from custody on no more than a promise not to be a terrorist. Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Abdullah Mehsud ran the kidnapping operation from which the Pakistanis tried to rescue their two Chinese guest workers; one of them died in the attempt, accidentally shot in the melee. As I wrote yesterday, this is just one more reason why we should be less concerned about the opinions of the appeasers and the corrupt at the UN and make decisions on detainment in strict accordance to the Geneva Convention. Those captured on the battlefield bearing arms but wearing no insignia should be summarily executed as spies.
The Chinese invest heavily in Pakistan and Musharraf relies heavily on their support to keep his economy afloat and technology updated. If AQ succeeds in driving the Chinese out, Musharraf will have to greatly reduce or eliminate counterterrorism activities, if for no other reason than a lack of funds and arms. AQ understands this and apparently feels that Musharraf is the weak link in the coalition arrayed against them. Perhaps their "October Surprise" is this attempt to either neutralize or kill Musharraf and attempting to isolate George Bush in the region.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on October 21, 2004 7:36 AM
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