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Today's Top News
Times Square Terror: Drone Payback?
Faisal Shahzad tried to bomb Times Square as payback for American drone attacks in Pakistan.
That's what the New York Post is reporting, at least. The tabloid, relying on anonymous "law-enforcement sources," says that Shahzad was an "eyewitness" to the unmanned "onslaught throughout the eight months he spent in Pakistan beginning last summer."
In a video made prior to the attack, the Pakistani Taliban leader Qari Hussain Mehsud said "the attack is a revenge" for "the recent rain of drone attacks," and for the slaying of extremist leaders in Iraq and Pakistan.
There have been an estimated 121 American drone strikes in Pakistan since early 2008. The death toll, by some calculations, is over 1,000 people. Counterinsurgency and counterterror experts have warned that the drone strikes risked creating more enemies than they offed.
I'm skeptical of neat, tit-for-tat rationales, however. I'm guessing Shahzad was radicalized long before American drone war over Pakistan got into full swing in 2008. The robot attacks might have helped convince Shahzad to assemble his crappily-made, Rube Goldberg bomb. I'm sure there were other factors.
Shahzad remained attached to his native Pakistan; he bought a one-way ticket there after the failed bombing. But the Pakistani Army is publicly doubting whether their local militants had anything to do with the terror attempt.
"Anybody can claim anything, but whether the organization has that kind of reach is questionable," Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the military's chief spokesman, said. "I don't think they have the capacity to reach the next level."