India-Pakistan: Al Qaeda Blows Itself Up

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September23, 2008:  In the first three months of the year, 90 women were the victims of "honor killings" in Pakistan. Half of these occurred in the tribal territories, where only 20 percent of the population lives. Women are killed by their families for real or imagined acts (like dating or marrying the wrong guy) that offend family honor. While technically illegal, these murders are rarely prosecuted.

Opinion polls show public support for suicide bombing sharply falling throughout the Moslem world in the last five years. In Pakistan, support for such tactics has fallen from 28 percent to five percent in that time. But even five percent of the population provides millions of willing supporters for such attacks.

The fighting along the Afghan border in Pakistan continues, with the Taliban and al Qaeda taking heavy losses (over 400 are being killed a week). The fighting is concentrated in three places (Swat Valley, Bajaur and Waziristan) where the pro-Taliban tribes are located. The tribes cannot stand up to the army, and suicide and roadside bombs do not do enough damage to stop the troops. The government refuses to negotiate and is demanding surrender. Public opinion, even in the tribal areas, is turning against the Islamic radicals. Even the stories of U.S. commandos and UAV missile attacks inside Pakistan are not changing that trend.

September 22, 2008: Pushtun tribes along the Afghan border are unhappy with the army invasion to fight pro-Taliban and al Qaeda tribes. The pro-terrorist tribes are a minority, but most tribes want the army and the terrorists out. Some tribes are fighting both the terrorists and the army, and the government is trying to work out deals to get the anti-terrorist tribes to stop fighting the soldiers.

Gunmen kidnapped a senior Afghan diplomat in the Pakistani tribal region near the Khyber pass (the ancient invasion route from Central Asia into India.)

In eastern India, Maoist rebels are killing each other in yet another internal political dispute. There have been several deaths and over a dozen casualties so far. Police are being kept busy with increased Hindu radical attacks on Christians in Eastern India.

September 20, 2008: In Pakistan's capital, two truck bombs destroyed the well defended Marriott Hotel complex, killing 60 and wounding nearly 300. Most of the casualties were Pakistanis, even though the Marriott is favored by Western visitors. While al Qaeda realizes that bombing attacks that kill locals hurt their cause, they apparently believed they would kill many foreigners and government officials in this attack. That did not happen, as the government meeting was cancelled at the last minute, and only a handful of foreigners were killed. So the attack was seen as an attack on the Pakistanis people. This is the sort of thing which has destroyed Islamic radical movements in many nations (Algeria, Egypt, Iraq) over the last two decades. Once the people turn on the Islamic radicals, it becomes too difficult for the terrorists to operate, and most of them are killed, jailed or driven into exile. Al Qaeda is trying to resist this fate, but has so far failed.

On the Afghan border, thousands of Pushtun tribals have fled to Afghanistan, to escape the fighting between pro-Taliban tribesmen and the army.

September 19, 2008: In New Delhi, Indian police cornered five Islamic terrorist suspects in a Moslem neighborhood. Two of the terrorists were killed in a gun fight, but two escaped.

September 18, 2008: The fighting in Pakistan, along the Afghan border, has interrupted efforts to inoculate children against polio, and eliminate the disease forever. So far this year, there have been 55 cases of polio in the tribal region, versus 32 for all of last year and 39 in 2006.

September 17, 2008: Low level Islamic terrorism continues in Kashmir, where India has moved Su-30 fighters, to match the F-16s that Pakistan has now based just across the border. On Pakistan's Afghan border, American UAVs apparently fired four Hellfire missiles at terrorist targets. Also along the border, villagers tried to seize three suicide bombers, and two of the bombers detonated their explosives rather than be captured. The three were believed trying to take control of a school and hold the children hostage. Many of the tribal people along the border oppose the Taliban and al Qaeda, and those anti-terror attitudes are becoming more popular.

 

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