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Blowback in Times Square

Was the amateurishly botched terror attack in Times Square on May 1 a consequence of high tech US terrorism perpetrated by predator drones in Pakistan? Our war in Afghanistan and Pakistan is terrorism with a much bigger budget than the cost of such blowback attacks by sympathizers of al Qaeda or the Taliban. Credible estimates are that we have spent almost $270 billion on the war in Afghanistan, a big money bonanza for the US military industrial complex. Pentagon parlance calls the war in Afghanistan “Operation Enduring Freedom” but a more accurate term would be Operation Enduring Terror.

According to Pakistan authorities, 44 predator strikes carried out by the CIA in Pakistan in 2009 killed more than 700 innocent civilians and only four of their intended al Qaeda and Taliban targets. As a result, people suffering such atrocities are striking back. The CIA boasted that they had killed 5 key Taliban leaders but it now seems that Hakimullah Mehsud, one of the leaders the CIA said they killed in January is still alive. Mehsud appeared on a video on May 3, threatening attacks on major US cities in acts of retaliation against the US drone attacks on Pakistan. A second video showed Mehsud next to a map of the United States saying that the group’s main targets are now US cities, and that “good news will be heard within some days or weeks.”

Mehsud referred to reports of his death as lies and propaganda in the footage that was apparently recorded in April. The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad said if the video is verified it will end all speculation about his death. US and Pakistani officials had claimed until recently that Mehsud was killed in a US missile attack in the remote tribal region of north-west Pakistan. But last week Pakistani intelligence officials said they believed Mehsud was only wounded.

Is there a link to the failed weekend bomb attack in New York and Mehsud? I don’t think we can dismiss claims by the Taliban group that it was responsible for the failed attempt to detonate the car bomb in Times Square. Retaliation or blowback seems to be the most logical motive for the Times Square scare.

The Dawn newspaper in Pakistan reported, “For each al Qa’eda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities.” An average of 58 civilians were killed every month, 12 persons every week and almost two people every day and the air strikes were made on intelligence reported to be given by Pakistanis and Afghans spying for the US led forces in Afghanistan.

President Obama has been much less reticent than President Bush to increase air strikes on Pakistan and shares much responsibility for the blowback in Times Square. The President doesn’t get it. Obama made a crude and dehumanizing joke at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He said his daughters were huge fans of the Jonas Brothers and warned, “but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You’ll never see it coming.”

Luckily the intended explosion failed. Faisel Shahzad, the person arrested for committing the act, is a 30 year old naturalized US citizen originally from Pakistan.

Shahzad was on board a Dubai-bound flight at Kennedy Airport when FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives arrested him. Shahzad lived with his wife and two small children in Shelton, Conn. for three years. After he became a naturalized U.S. citizen on April 17, 2009, he spent much of the past year in Pakistan where his wife is currently living. On June 2, 2009, Shahzad departed the U.S. for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. He traveled to Pakistan and is believed to have visited Peshawar, a city known as a gateway to the militant-occupied tribal regions of the country. Details of his activities in Pakistan remain speculative, but Shahzad last entered the U.S. on Feb. 3, 2010 after a five-month visit to the country of his birth. The NY Times reports that 7 or 8 people have been arrested in Pakistan as part of the Times Square scare.

In the past two years several people with American citizenship or residency have been accused of terrorism in the U.S. like Maj. Nidal Hasan, a U.S.-born Army psychiatrist of Palestinian descent charged with fatally shooting 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, and Najibullah Zazi, an airport shuttle driver from Afghanistan, who pled guilty to a bomb plot on New York subways.

When we terrorize Afghanistan and Pakistan with war we should expect blowbacks of terror from the terrorized. War is not the answer. That’s why I write anti-war essays and have a bumper sticker on my car saying War is Terrorism: With a Bigger Budget and another proclaiming Peace on Earth.

TOM TURNIPSEED is an attorney, writer and peace activist in Columbia, SC. His blog is http://tomandjudyonablog.blogspot.com/

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