Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ISIS takes responsibility for major terrorist attack targeting police recruits in Pakistan.

Pakistani security forces guarding the police college after the attack. LA Time/EPA

ISIS has taken responsibility for a major terrorist attack in Pakistan that killed at least 60 people. LA Times. The attack occurred at a police academy in Quetta and the victims were all cadets between the age of 15 and 25. The three militants in the attack were armed with Kalashnikov's and grenades and at least 120 people were wounded in the attacks. Though other groups have taken credit for the attack, including the Pakistani Taliban, the government believes that ISIS was, at the very least, involved in the attack. An ISIS affiliate, Lashkhar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami, is believed to be responsible for the attack and they have strong links to ISIS's Khorasan Province. As ISIS has retreated in Iraq, Syria and Libya, many fighters have returned to Pakistan to take up the fight there. 

My Comment:
ISIS has been lying low lately. I'm not talking about the various battles in Syria, Iraq and Libya. ISIS has still been getting headlines there. Indeed, they are falling behind in each country. In Syria, they have been pushed out of their border holdings and have even lost the critical town of Dabiq, important for religious, not strategic reasons. In Libya, their last major holdouts in Sirte are all but defeated. An in the biggest battle of all, Iraqi troops are closing in on their de-facto capital of Mosul. 

As ISIS is pushed back in those countries many people, including me, predicted more major attacks from ISIS both as a distraction and because ISIS militants can't get to the major battlefields anymore. So far however, in Europe and America at least, that has not developed. Who's to say why or how long it will last?

But obviously Pakistan wasn't so lucky. This ISIS affiliate pulled off an extremely daring and effective attack. Three men with rifles and grenades killed at least 60 and wounded 120 more. That's an effective terror attack by almost any measure. 

And it is a similar tactic that has been used several times in the country before. ISIS and Taliban militants have a long history of attacking colleges, schools and academies like this. The militants have had great success attacking these places, even though some of them, like this police academy and various military schools, should have some defenses. 

It really is concerning to me that Pakistan hasn't gotten an answer to this kind of attack. You would think at this point they would have some kind of defenses up, beyond the protective walls that surround these targets. Arming people could work, there was an attack where a professor bought time for his students by returning fire at militants with a handgun, but these attackers are better armed then any civilian is likely to be. My suggestion is that they should have the Army or other security forces guarding these schools and academies. 

I also wonder why, if the victims were police recruits, none of them were armed? I know military bases can be surprisingly poorly defended (see all the various terror attacks here in the United States like the Chattanooga and Fort Hood shootings), but you would think that someone would have had a gun to fire back. 

I think it is possible that western terrorists in America and Europe could also follow this strategy. Though in America, school shootings are not unheard of, to say the least, they have largely been carried out by deranged people, not terrorists in the traditional sense. Schools and colleges are still soft targets in America, even with our heightened sensitivity to the issue, and I would not be surprised if ISIS or some other terror group doesn't give it a try here. Especially when they have been so effective in Pakistan.  

I do wonder if there won't be another major terror attack before the US election. Lone wolf attackers could be planning something and I wouldn't be too surprised if a more substantial plot develops as well. We haven't had a successful terror attack in the United States since the bombings in New York and the mass stabbing in Minnesota, and those attacks were rather minor in comparison. 

My greatest worry is that ISIS or some other terror group will launch an attack at a polling place in November 8th. That could have massive implications for the election and would make our current concerns about voter fraud and Russian interference seem quaint in comparison. I don't really think ISIS will pull anything like that off though, but if they do it would be a disaster... 

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