March 21, 2011 | Attack on construction site in port city of Gwadar, Pakistan

Most terrorist attacks don’t make major headlines because they kill people in places most of us have never heard of.

GWADAR, PAKISTAN — Terrorism dominates headlines in the West for several reasons. Naturally, in the post 9/11 era we are all more attuned to this form of violence because…well, 9/11. What was formerly a niche specialty amongst academics but also something security intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been monitoring forever as part of their mandates suddenly became something we all paid more attention to.

US scholar Brian Jenkins has come up with some great lines about why terrorism is so scary and why it grabs our interest. He wrote that ‘terrorism is theatre’ and that ‘terrorists don’t want a lot of people dead: they want a lot of people watching’. Actually, with respect to the latter I think they want both, but I get Brian’s idea.

So what if an attack happens where there is neither a large number of casualties and no one is watching? Do we find out about it? Do we care?

On this day in 2011, unidentified people on motorbikes attacked a construction crew in the port city of Gwadar in Pakistan, killing eleven.

On this day in 2011 unidentified people on motorbikes attacked a construction crew in the port city of Gwadar in Balochistan province, an area in southwestern Pakistan, killing eleven. All in all four gunmen were involved: they all successfully fled the scene.

OK, first: where in the world is Gwadar? As noted, it is a port city in Pakistan, one which has received a lot of attention from China of all places in recent years (it is part of that country’s One Belt One Road plan and China claims it will make the coastal city the single largest contributor to Pakistan’s national economic output in seven years by creating 47,000 jobs and new investments worth billions of dollars ).

Image result for Balochistan Liberation Army
A couple of BLA guys just hangin’
Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA)

Secondly, there have been a number of terrorist incidents in Balochistan over many, many years. One terrorist group in particular, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), has been involved in attacks in the region, including ones targeting Chinese engineers, and has been added to the US’ Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) list.

I do not know, and I wonder if Pakistani authorities do either, whether the BLA was behind this attack. Given their history there is a real possibility they were. What I do know is that we will see more attacks from these terrorists.

So, the next time someone asks you where is Gwadar and where is Balochistan, you can show off your knowledge.

Phil Gurski
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