As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Most Dangerous Trouble Spot In The World Update

Bin laden has declared war on Musharraf:

The 23-minute 37-second audio message -- titled "Come to Jihad: A Speech to the People of Pakistan" -- is recorded over a montage of old video, and begins with bin Laden reciting prayers and citations from the Quran in Arabic. The audio fades down, then a narrator translates bin Laden's message into Pashto. The tape is subtitled in English, and an Arabic transcript was released.

Terrorism analyst Laura Mansfield told CNN that while the message is directed at the Pakistani people, "the simultaneous release of transcripts in English, Pashto, and Arabic indicate the terror group is looking at a wider audience, including the English-speaking world."

The only time reference in bin Laden's message is to the July siege of Islamabad's Red Mosque -- a week-long standoff between Pakistani security forces and Islamic extremists who hoped to establish a Taliban-style rule across the capital. More than 100 people, including militant leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi, died when troops stormed the mosque compound.

Mansfield noted that the bulk of bin Laden's message "builds a [legal] case under Islamic sharia [law] justifying why Muslims in Pakistan should take up arms against" Musharraf.

Which is a false case, of course.

Pakistan is actually at a crossroads right now. They can become a new democracy with a more functional government, or Musharraf can tighten the reins and give an opening to Islamic extremists. That Bin Laden is attacking Musharraf can be an opening here, although Bin Laden is actually more popular than Musharraf in the country, and far more popular than Bush (of course, that's mainly because pro-democracy forces don't like Musharraf). Al Qaeda is playing a game of inches with a long time horizon, and they can agitate against Musharraf while waiting to see how things play out. The question is, will this lead to more vigilant efforts against terrorism by the Pakistani government, or an accomodation?

UPDATE: Pakistan will hold its Presidential election October 6. Benazir Bhutto, seeking to become Prime Minister, won't even get in the country until October 17 to contest parliamentary elections sometime in December.

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