Mehsud’s threat to target White House is credible: Terrorism experts

April 1st, 2009 - 6:06 pm ICT by ANI  

Taliban Washington, Apr 1 (ANI): The threat given by Pakistan Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud to target the White House and other important places in the United States must be taken seriously, terrorism experts have said.

Mehsud told a foreign news agency on Tuesday that soon he would launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world.

Experts call Mehsud a “rising young star” who is linked both to the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the September 2008 bombing that killed 54 people in the Marriott hotel in Islamabad.

FOX News quoted them as saying that Mehsud’s threat to carry out an attack in Washington should not be discounted.

“It should be taken seriously because [Mehsud] has ordered the deaths of many Pakistanis and Afghans and has a close alliance with al Qaeda,” said James Phillips, a terrorism expert and senior research fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Heritage Foundation.

“It’s not too much of a stretch to think he might be involved in an attack on the US if he’s able to get his followers inside the United States. He’s a militant extremist whose threats cannot be ignored.”

Phillips said Mehsud is less of a direct threat to the US than Osama bin Laden in an ideological sense, but his influence in Pakistan could allow him to tap into existing networks within al Qaeda or among Afghan Taliban militants to achieve his goals.

Steve Emerson, executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, said that of the many terrorists who have issued “blustery threats” in recent years, Meshud is considered a “rising young star” among militants.

“He’s a dangerous guy. It just reaffirms the fact that Washington is a major target. He seems to be a pretty bloody, bold guy who is not afraid to have a marker on himself and knows how to exact publicity … The real issue is what US intelligence knows,” Emerson said.

Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, said Mehsud’s attacks have significantly altered the political dynamics in Pakistan and provide a major test for President Asif Ali Zardari. But any direct threat Mehsud poses to the United States will be through his link with Al Qaeda, she said.

“If he did have the reach, it would be because of al Qaeda. This is more posturing on his behalf,” she said. (ANI)

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