September 20, 2008: Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad, Pakistan

40 people were killed and another 250 injured when a truck bomb struck the Marriott Hotel in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.

Sometimes terrorist attacks end up more lethal because of add-on effects.

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Have you ever heard of the law of unintended consequences? Apparently a version of it goes all the way back to John Locke, the 17th century English philosopher! It has two fundamental meanings, one positive and one negative. If for example, you break your leg and have to go to the hospital and there you meet your future spouse that would be a positive.

The negative examples, however, are the ones that stick with us. The US invasion of Iraq gave rise to Islamic State (ISIS), a highly negative unintended consequence. That same decision allowed Al Qaeda (AQ) the room to evolve and remain a threat to this day, as ably outlined by my friend Colin Clarke.

On this day in 2008

If you are a terrorist group, what would be a negative consequence for us is a definite gain for them. On this day in 2008 a huge truck bomb exploded at the entrance to the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, killing at least 40 people and wounding at least 250. About two-thirds of the building caught fire as a result of the explosion after a natural gas pipe was blown open, and the reception area was completely destroyed.

I was inside the Marquee Hall. It was iftar time. All of a sudden there was a massive explosion. The roofs collapsed, and we ran out the back

Eye witness to the attack

While no group claimed immediate responsibility for the attack a US drone strike in 2017 (two of the victims in 2008 were in the US military) killed one of the alleged planners of the operation, a member of the Pakistani Taliban. Whoever it was that carried out the attack I cannot believe that they knew the initial explosion would rupture a gas line, making the carnage worse.

You see, not all terrorists are geniuses. Sometime they get lucky.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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