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October Today in Terrorism

October 10, 2009: Siege on military HQ in Pakistan

On October 10, 2009 Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan terrorists attacked Pakistan’s military HQ in Islamabad killing 11 soldiers and civilians .

RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN – We may loathe terrorists but we have to at least recognise that some of them have balls.

We hear a lot about ‘soft targets‘. This is of course a reference to the fact that most venues identified by terrorists do not have much, if any, protection. As a consequence, they are next to impossible to defend. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why violent extremists opt for these places. After all, they want to succeed in their attacks, the better to sow fear and uncertainty.

It thus stands to reason that most terrorists would not attempt to hit well-guarded or well-armed places. Those in those venues would be better able not only to defend themselves but to harm or kill the terrorists. Why would any violent extremist want to risk failure in that way?

Hey terrorist punk! Are you feeling lucky today? (Photo: USAG- Humphreys on flickr, photo by Capt. Austin Liu, CC BY 2.0)

There are exceptions of course.

On this day in 2009

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists dressed in army uniforms attacked Pakistan’s military HQ in Islamabad in what became a 24-hour siege/hostage taking. 11 soldiers and civilians were killed and several wounded: in all nine terrorists were killed and their leader was captured alive. The attack occurred just before the Pakistani army had planned a US-backed offensive against the TTP in Waziristan region on the border with Afghanistan, the hub of extremism in Pakistan.

Perhaps the attack on the GHQ may prove to be a watershed that compels the security and civilian establishment, as well as most of the opposition groups, to realize that the time to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ religious militants or Taliban was over, and a consensus was needed to confront all such groups as enemies of the state.

Editor at the Pakistani newspaper Dawn

So while the terrorists all died or were captured – the leader, Aqeel alias Dr. Usman Aqeel, was hanged in 2014 – this brazen assault nevertheless shocked Pakistan and worsened concerns that terrorists could one day take over a state that is part of the nuclear club. Terrorists with nukes – now THERE’s something to worry about!

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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