The South Asia Channel

Terrorism tourism?

2009 saw 53 drone strikes in Pakistan’s rugged northwest tribal regions, the vast majority of them in North and South Waziristan, both when and where Faisal Shahzad reportedly received explosives training. News stories yesterday said that Shahzad was "angry" about the drone strikes and "decided to vent his anger" by attempting to car bomb Times ...

2009 saw 53 drone strikes in Pakistan's rugged northwest tribal regions, the vast majority of them in North and South Waziristan, both when and where Faisal Shahzad reportedly received explosives training. News stories yesterday said that Shahzad was "angry" about the drone strikes and "decided to vent his anger" by attempting to car bomb Times Square. For all their successes in killing militant leaders like Baitullah Mehsud and Saleh al-Somali, along with hundreds of other low-level militants (in what is apparently part of the CIA's strategy for the drones -- firing missiles without fully identifying the targets), the United States cannot discount the fact that the drone strikes do not appear to be deterring some would-be bombers from seeking training in Waziristan's camps. Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan-American coffee cart vendor who pleaded guilty to planning to attack New York City subway lines, also spent time in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) training with al Qaeda in 2008, even though George W. Bush's administration authorized 34 strikes in the tribal areas that year. And while local militants in the FATA say they fear the drones -- calling them wasps and sleeping outdoors under trees -- Westerners are still going.

Katherine Tiedemann is a policy analyst at the New America Foundation and the co-editor of the AfPak Channel.

2009 saw 53 drone strikes in Pakistan’s rugged northwest tribal regions, the vast majority of them in North and South Waziristan, both when and where Faisal Shahzad reportedly received explosives training. News stories yesterday said that Shahzad was "angry" about the drone strikes and "decided to vent his anger" by attempting to car bomb Times Square. For all their successes in killing militant leaders like Baitullah Mehsud and Saleh al-Somali, along with hundreds of other low-level militants (in what is apparently part of the CIA’s strategy for the drones — firing missiles without fully identifying the targets), the United States cannot discount the fact that the drone strikes do not appear to be deterring some would-be bombers from seeking training in Waziristan’s camps. Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan-American coffee cart vendor who pleaded guilty to planning to attack New York City subway lines, also spent time in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) training with al Qaeda in 2008, even though George W. Bush’s administration authorized 34 strikes in the tribal areas that year. And while local militants in the FATA say they fear the drones — calling them wasps and sleeping outdoors under trees — Westerners are still going.

Katherine Tiedemann is a policy analyst at the New America Foundation and the co-editor of the AfPak Channel.

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