Islamabad: Ten years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent "war on terror" launched by United Stated-led forces against al Qaeda, the terrorist outfit “continues to pose a serious threat to the world as it keeps surviving and thriving mainly on the Pakistan-Afghanistan tribal belt”, a senior Pakistani journalist and author has said.
“In these rugged areas, it [al Qaeda] has established an effective jihadi network that increasingly exploits its Pakistani affiliates to carry on the global jihadi agenda of Osama bin Laden, despite his May 02 killing in a United States military raid in Abbottabad in Pakistan,” Amir Mir wrote in a piece for Asia Times Online.
Until recently, analysts have been mostly focusing on the dangers posed by the growing Talibanisation of Pakistan, he noted.
“Yet, it has now become abundantly clear that the time has come to pay more attention to the bigger dangers posed by the Pakistanisation of al Qaeda,” he added.
Mir, who has written several books on the subject of militant Islam and terrorism, the latest being `The Bhutto murder trail: From Waziristan to GHQ`, said that the al Qaeda leadership’s choice of using the FATA region, especially the North and South Waziristan tribal agencies as their hideout, has enabled the terror outfit to build a new power base, separate from Afghanistan.
“As a result, despite Pakistan’s extensive contribution to the "war on terror", many questions persist about the extent to which al Qaeda and its allied groups are operating within Pakistan,” he observed.
He said that al Qaeda`s success in forging close ties to Pakistani jihadi groups has given it an increasingly secure haven in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal areas, which have “replaced Afghanistan as the key training and indoctrination grounds for al Qaeda recruits to be used in operations abroad and for training those indoctrinated and radicalised elsewhere.”
The journalist also said it appears that al Qaeda not only remains in business in its traditional stronghold in the Waziristan tribal region, it has “also clearly advanced to the urban areas in all four provinces of Pakistan”.
“This is confirmed by the growing belief of the Barack Obama administration that if there is one country that matters most to the future of al Qaeda, it is Pakistan,” he added.