Here’s the link to Oui’s diary with the details of the suspect’s arrest at JFK airport. Kudos to Homeland Security’s Joint Terrorist Task Force and local law enforcement for finding this guy before he left the country.
I admit my initial skepticism that it was an attack with foreign connections was incorrect, though it seems clear that the bomber wasn’t particularly well trained in the art of bomb making by the Taliban in Pakistan or by anyone else for that matter.
This does show in my humble opinion, however, that the Obama administration’s policy of increased predator drone attacks against suspected Taliban leaders and jihadists in Pakistan and Afghanistan that often end up killing non-Taliban civilians, including women and children, have consequences. While the numbers of civilians killed is disputed (US sources place the number at 30 killed or less, while others claim over 700 civilian deaths alone last year from drone attacks) there can be no doubt that the US military has become a significant part of Pakistan’s counterinsurgency forces in the Northern tribal areas:
“We’ve become sort of the counterinsurgency air force of Pakistan,” said Micah Zenko, a national security scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations.
To my knowledge this is the first Pakistani American arrested for an attempted terrorist bomb attack on US soil. Major Malik Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood Killer, was of Palestinian descent. Other recent foiled terrorist plots however have had a Pakistani connections.
Agents in Denver arrested Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year old airport shuttle driver, who authorities say appears to be the ringleader of the alleged plot. Also charged with lying to the FBI was Zazi’s father, Mohammed Zazi. […]
Later, Zazi admitted the notes were his and that he attended an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan and received instructions on weapons and explosives.
Law enforcement and intelligence officials say the case began in 2008 when the CIA twice picked up on Zazi’s presence in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, a place often used by al Qaeda to arrange meetings with foreigners.
So far, the only successful attacks or actual attempts against Americans in the US (other than 911) were conducted by individuals, who like the alleged bomber in Times Square seem to be rather inept at bomb making. The real concern seems to be terrorist cells composed of better trained individuals, but those also seem to be easier to discover and infiltrate, as noted by Richard Clarke last night on Countdown (Story #4 on the video feed at the Countdown website for May 3, 2010).
The real question is whether our use of drones based on intelligence from Pakistan’s Military and Security Services is worth the risk of continued attacks, whether by lone wolfs or as part of terrorist cells with connections to the Taliban in Pakistan. The question on how efficacious a policy our drone campaign has been is a matter of dispute, with US intelligence sources claiming great efficacy, while other observers contend that these drone attacks do more harm than good.
I don’t know the answer to that question. What I do know is that there are many easy targets in America for terrorists to attack, whether they be of the foreign or domestic variety. And apparently there are a growing number of highly motivated people willing to carry out such attacks.