Today in terrorism: 10 October 2008

On this date in 2008, a suicide bomber struck Orakzai, Pakistan, killing at least 50 and wounding more than 100.

On this date in 2008, a suicide bomber struck Orakzai, Pakistan, killing at least 50 and wounding more than 100.

I would wager that when most people think of Pakistan they would immediately label that country a perpetrator, or at least a sponsor, of terrorism rather than a victim. After all, Pakistan has harboured elements of the Taliban for decades as well as a whole host of Islamist terrorist groups that have caused death and destruction in the region. India certainly has every right to point the finger at its neighbour, homegrown Hindu terrorism notwithstanding.

Just the other day, Pakistani authorities arrested four aides of Islamist terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai that killed 174. If you recall that attack, a bunch of terrorists wandered through the city for four full days unleashing horror at a transport terminus, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the Oberoi Trident, as well as a Jewish centre.

Part of the problem

It is thus clear that Pakistan is part of the problem, not the solution. At the same time, however, there have been many terrorist attacks on its soil, perpetrated by Islamist extremist groups. Whether these are aimed at the government, the military or civilians they are all examples of carnage carried out in the name of ideology.

One such attack took place on this day in 2008, a little more than a month before the Mumbai slaughter. At a meeting, or jirga, of tribal leaders in Orakzai, near the border with Afghanistan, to discuss the formation of a militia and the destruction of a local Taliban office, a suicide bomber struck, killing at least 50 and wounding more than 100. Just prior to the incident tribesmen in the north-western region had taken up arms to fight the Taliban alongside Pakistani troops. The Taliban were probably behind the attack in Orakzai.

Some would say that Pakistan deserved the attack in a case of ‘he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword’. Maybe. As noted, Pakistan is not innocent when it comes to its decisions to allow terrorist groups to openly and freely operate on its soil. But terrorist victims are terrorist victims regardless.

It would be best to remember this.

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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