Friday, October 19, 2007

Bhutto, Bombs, and Curious Coincidences

The blame game has started, after the Bhutto Bombing in Karachi, Pakistan. CBS News said that it looked like Al Qaeda was gunning for Former (and maybe future) Prime Minister Benezir Bhutto, when they heard that she was heading back to Pakistan.

Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander and bigwig in his tribe's territory on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, said that he'd meet Bhutto with suicide bombers. That at least one suicide bomber had a blast in Karachi, an associate of his says the Taliban wasn't involved.

Bhutto thinks there may have been some combination of four groups involved in the attack:
  • Taliban elements
  • Al-Qaeda
  • Pakistani Taliban
    (I'm not sure what the distinction is)
  • "A fourth -- a group -- I believe from Karachi," she said
Sounds like the street in Karachi was a sort of shooting gallery, with bombs instead of BB guns.

Pakistani security types say that Bhutto should have stuck to their plan of flying to her speech by helicopter.

With 20-20 hindsight, it's obvious that a helicopter ride would have avoided the street-level attack. On the other hand, helicopters have been known to fall out of the sky, too.

It's 'way too early to know exactly what happened, but the Karachi police seem to be piecing together the evidence. There was at least one suicide bomber: a young man who first lobbed a grenade, and 22 seconds later blew himself up next to a truck.

The bomber's head landed near the rest of the wreckage, and was taken to a forensics lab. Karachi police hope to figure out who he was.

There was a police presence around Bhutto's convoy, including the van that helped shield her from the biggest blast. On the other hand, a broadcast news report said that there was a rather light distribution of police around the route.

Which might help explain why it took the convoy 10 hours to go through Karachi.

Bhutto didn't blame the Pakistani government, but said that individuals in the government might be involved. This isn't as crazy as it sounds. Karachi street lighting failed at sunset, and Bhutto's people couldn't call the national security adviser. Phone service wasn't working, either.

Sometimes conincidences are just that: "A sequence of events that although accidental seems to have been planned or arranged." (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition).

Sometimes, though, there are cause-effect links.

Pakistan isn't up to American standards of telecommunications, but they're not doing too badly in the major cities. And, one of the country's three international gateway exchanges is in Karachi - which shows that the major port city isn't a backwater.

Pakistan's national power agency, NEPRA, gives the impression that the Pakistani power grid is in pretty good shape. A claim I take with a grain of salt.

Just the same, I think it's odd that street lights go out and phone service failing in an Islamic country, just as the convoy of a woman who is likely to become president passes through town. With a light police presence.

Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.

Posts about Benazir Bhutto.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.