Sunday, January 10, 2010

“all those militant groups are cooperating more closely than ever”

In its report that Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi—better known as the suicide bomber who killed 8 people at a CIA base in Afghanistan –appears in a video with Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, the New York Times suggests a “troubling possibility”:

But other militants allied with the Afghan Taliban factions and Al Qaeda claimed responsibility, too, leading to another troubling possibility: that all those militant groups are cooperating more closely than ever.

Cooperation between militant groups is certainly a possibility. Indeed, there are many disparate groups that are embroiled in the AfPak conflict who routinely take on Afghan or NATO forces—the Uzbek Islamist Movement is a good example of a non-Taliban, non-Al-Qaeda organization with its own goals but that cooperates with the Afghan and presumably the Pakistani Taliban.

And, while competing claims of responsibility may indicate cooperation, it seems more likely that the bombing of the CIA’s operating base in Afghanistan—given the coverage it has received and the nature of the target—is high profile success for which ever militant group that can lay claim to it. Such successes would likely raise the standing of the group responsible for it and may improve its ability to recruit fighters and garner support. Thus, the competing claims of responsibility are less indicative of cooperation than of the desirability to have owned the operation in question. Further, the ebullient praise that the suicide bomber levels on Baitullah Mehsud in the video in question buttresses the notion that the Pakistani Taliban is solely responsible for the bombing.

No comments: