Every US report seems to repeat.
Details of the suspects, accusations of assisting would-be Time Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, shock from family, explanations from the Pakistani military, reactions from and accusations against Islamabad. And one brief mention that this “loose network” was “motivated by hatred of America and the West.”
The bulk of reporting speculates how these “terrorists” can be stopped, the standard reactionary topic of debate. Feverish activity to dry up financial networks and close security loopholes will once again obscure the question that could lead to a real solution. Material measures cannot plug the attacks at the source, only attempt to prevent and defend against them.
Rather than shed light on the situation, we’re only tumbling deeper into the TTP’s rabbit hole. We expected the fall to be long and winding, and it doesn’t appear over either. Shahzad claimed from the beginning that he acted alone, but his testimony conflicts with a half dozen suspects arrested since the bombing attempt.
In the latest case several suspects say they directly assisted his funding and traveled with him to Waziristan, where Shahzad would learn rudimentary bomb-making. One claims, rather than Shahzad meeting TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud, that he made the contact.
Like Shahzad’s own records, this information is subject to change and contradiction.
The picture won’t turn clearer though regardless of the outcome, not until the final pieces fall into place. Shahzad appears a willing lone wolf, disillusioned and ultimately recruited as the perfect inside man. Yet who brought him in - the TTP, his family, or these latest suspects - remains inconclusive. Maybe a cross-connection.
But in any case these latest suspects, including the c0-owner of an esteemed catering company used by the US embassy in Pakistan and a disenchanted army major, assume Shahzad’s importance. One US intelligence official claimed an attack on an embassy event was imminent, making Shahzad one explosion in a string.
Now instead of Shahzad’s connection, what level of contact do these suspects have with the TTP?
Did whoever claims to have met Hakimullah actively seek him out, did the TTP come to him, or was he always part of the group? A big difference exists whether this “loose network” formed spontaneously - and partially US-grown - because they hated America, or whether they were TTP affiliates.
A rogue from inside America is far more dangerous than a sleeper cell, both to defend against and what it symbolizes.
We’re still waiting on this information, but for now a connection appears to exist. One Western intelligence official said, “this informal network.. is suspected of having helped to recruit Pakistanis living abroad who wanted to return home to train for terrorist attacks.”
This suggests they either contacted the TTP years ago or were transplanted and working up the cell.
At the same time, their origins won’t matter so much if the drones keep firing coming amid the roar of “do more,” if America stays in Afghanistan indefinitely, if Musharraf returns. The TTP hoped for and received Clinton's threat of "severe consequences." Drone strikes, a bossy attitude, and perceived imperialism ensure that like minds of Shahzad and company will keep up their attacks too.
They’ll come solo, through the TTP, or another militant group. Drone strikes have become so ubiquitous that one questions not just of their tactical abilities, but whether their controllers drop their payloads because they want the war to continue. For the wolves to keep attacking.
And they'll keep coming in the absence of fully understanding “why they hate America” and considering whether their reasons contain validity. More than “terrorists” believe America has committed strategic errors and crimes against humanity in the Middle East that warrant disfavor. Without strategic reform Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis alike will continue despising US policy in West Asia, leading to hatred and a steady stream of lone wolfs that often end up back in packs.
So casually overlooking the cause in the US media, representative of Washington and the American people, makes for more chaos.