The case of the “lone wolf” bombing attempt in Times Square became even more complicated yesterday with the arrest of a Pakistani Army officer. An army major apparently helped Faisal Shahzad get to and from a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. The connection offers a troubling look at the complicated relationship between the Pakistani Taliban and the security forces of the Muslim nation:
Investigators have arrested a Pakistani army major linked to the prime suspect in the botched attempt to bomb New York City’s Times Square early this month, Pakistani law enforcement sources said Tuesday.
The major’s involvement with suspect Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to fly to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, remains unclear. Law enforcement sources said the major had met Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, in Islamabad, the capital, and was in cellphone contact with him.
The major’s arrest marks the first time someone in Pakistan’s military establishment has been directly linked to the case. The sources would not say when the alleged meeting and phone calls between Shahzad and the major took place, or what was discussed. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the investigation.
The initial spin on this attack keeps disintegrating on further inspection. Clearly this was a well-supported conspiracy that involved a much wider variety of members than the Obama administration suggested in its initial responses. It also makes it harder to let American counterterrorism efforts off the hook for missing Shahzad. Surely having a recently naturalized US citizen from Pakistan meeting with the Pakistani military and slipping away to North Waziristan for a long period of time should have captured someone’s notice — especially the repeated cell-phone calls?
And once again, it demonstrates that the Pakistani military represents a threat of its own to some degree. This isn’t just some disaffected lance corporal offering material support to the Taliban. Someone of this rank would have access to plenty of resources to undermine our efforts against the Taliban on both sides of the border. Where was the ISI in this, too? Did they not detect this plot, or did they not care to detect this plot and others? The Taliban was once their client, and some have suggested that they want to re-establish that relationship for the day when the US pulls out of the theater. How many other army officers are providing material support to the Taliban — and to plots against the US?