Under its changed policy on armed incursions into Pakistan, a US drone attack killed 12 people in the troubled northwest frontier region of North Waziristan on Friday. Pakistan reacted with anger, but not much else.
This was this week’s second such attack, killing in all 22 people. Pakistani people, politicians and generals have all reacted angrily, but there is a general feeling that there isn’t much the beleaguered government can do.
Newly elected president Asif Zardari is rushing to London to meet western leaders. The army leadership at home, threatened to do everything for the sake of the country’s sovereignty.
In what has been a gloomy week, the announcement by NATO that it won’t be following US troops into Pakistan must have come as a relief. Pressure is mounting, otherwise, on Pakistan’s leaders to do something.
These attacks come under a changed policy in the US —The New York Times reported on Thursday that President George W. Bush authorised attacks into Pakistan in July to hunt down Al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
In the Friday attack, an unmanned US aircraft bombed a house in Miranshah. Reports said women and children were among the dead. The opposition PML-N has asked for an emergency parliament meet to discuss the issue.
Both have been active in ongoing Internet battle between Islamicist hackers and their opponents.
Terrorism expert B Raman says, “I received word two days ago that it was possible the tape would not be released because of hackers.” He noted: “As Sahab is having problems. (Al Qaeda spokesperson) Adam Gadan, in charge of the website, has not been heard of for six months. There are reports he may have been killed in Pakistan.” He expects the tape to be issued three or four days from now. “Or they will send it to Al Jazeera.”
This is not the first time hackers have dented the plans of the world’s deadliest terror network. In 2004, a hacker group called TeAmZ USA had knocked out the websites of Abu Musal al-Zarqawi, late head of the Al Qaeda in Iraq, for showing tapes of Westerners being beheaded. The hackers left the image of a gun-toting penguin on the website.
Last year’s Al Qaeda anniversary videotape included a eulogy by Bin Laden to 9/11 attacker Waleed al Shehri and his video will — a recording made by suicide bombers before they carry out their missions. Al Qaeda failed to issue an anniversary tape in 2004 as well, leading to speculation Bin Laden had died. Last year, Washington released the anniversary tape two days before Al Qaeda did. Says Raman, “This was probably to deliberately show the US had hacked the password to Al Qaeda’s website.”