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Tale of Two Terror Attacks In Pakistan

The Pakistani Taliban (Tarik-e-Taliban Pakistan - TTP) have claimed responsibility for today's attack on the US consulate offices in Peshawar that left 6 dead according to the latest reports. Al-Qaeda's Pakistani terrorist allies said US drone attacks on al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban are the cause.

According to reports, the attack was of the bomb and swarm variety, where a truck bomb blasts through the security perimeter and armed gunmen then follow through the breach. But with only six dead, likely all or nearly all from the blast itself, the swarm that followed was of little effect. Whether this was because of the terrorist's ineffectiveness or alert security or both is a matter that is currently being analyzed by counterterrorism officials in the US and in Pakistan. Two of the dead were Pakistani security employees of the US consulate.

The US drone attacks are indeed very effective and often even crippling to the Taliban and al-Qaeda inside Pakistan. It is believed that many of the terrorists have been forced from their comfortable lairs in North and South Waziristan and elsewhere and into cities like Kirachi out of fear of drone attacks. While troubling for Kirachi, Pakistani security forces operate with dominance there, not the terrorists in their Waziristan backyards.

This is why, regardless of terrorist threats and attacks, drone operations should continue without pause or regret. The effectiveness of the "Drone War" has pushed the Taliban and al-Qaeda from their once comfortable lairs, in conjunction with commendable effort on the ground by the Pakistani military - an effort not seen by Pakistan until Pakistan's military leader General Kiyani and CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus had direct meetings and saw eye to eye on the matter at hand.

Peshawar is the gateway city on the edge, lying between the largely Anglicized and civilized majority of Pakistan and the wild west that is the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It is a hotbed of terrorist activity and has been for decades.

Traveling in Peshawar, shops can be seen flying the black jihadist flag of al-Qaeda. But this is more often than not done by the shop owners for protection against reprisal rather than a belief in the ideology. Fear in Peshawar is deep and real, and al-Qaeda's presence is no mystery. And the city lies at the edge of to spheres of influence - the Pakistani government and terrorists - including al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which have been waging a usually slow-motion insurgency against the government of Pakistan for years.

Western and Pakistani government buildings and personnel in Peshawar are relatively easy targets for al-Qaeda and the Taliban for proximity reasons. Similar attacks deeper into Pakistan proper require much more effort, including more discrete bomb making and enhanced secrecy of planning and execution. The terrorists are capable - as they have demonstrated in the past - but it is a higher hurdle to clear than Peshawar, even in Pakistan. There is that to draw on in the aftermath of the attacks.

The bombing came just hours after another suicide attack deeper in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Dir. There, a suicide bomber detonated himself amidst a crowd that had gathered for a Awami National Party (ANP) rally. The ANP is a secular party much hated by the Islamists of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. And Dir is an area where Osama bin Laden was once thought to have long taken refuge after fleeing from US forces in Afghanistan. That attack, carried out by the same murderous Islamist animals, had nothing to do with drone attacks and everything to do with killing secularists for being secularists. And it was notably deeper into the tribal areas, not Pakistan proper.

It's also worth mentioning that the same terrorists have again attacked NATO supply convoys making their trek from the Pakistani port city of Kirachi to the forces in Afghanistan.

The al-Qaeda and Taliban terror attacks and threats will continue. But attacks against US installations will continue to prove less fruitful for the terrorists than those directed at the Pakistani people. Look at the cost/benefit for the terrorists in yesterday's attacks in Peshawar vs. Dir. One was immensely expensive and achieved little aside from headlines. The other required one suicide bomber and smote 30 Pakistanis from this earth. For that reason, we will continue to see much more of one than the other.


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