It’s difficult to see how Beitullah Massoud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has the capability to launch attacks against the U.S., but consider yourself on notice about his intentions:
The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, a man with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, threatened Tuesday to carry out a terror attack on the U.S. capital, and said his forces were behind the assault on a police academy in eastern Pakistan.
Baitullah Mehsud said fighters loyal to him raided the police academy on the outskirts of Lahore on Monday to avenge U.S. missile strikes against Islamic militants based along the border with Afghanistan, a region largely controlled by the Taliban and al Qaeda. …
"Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world," he said in separate remarks to the Associated Press.
There’s little doubt that the drone strikes carry a great risk of alienating a Pakistani populace that the Pakistani government and the U.S. needs to bandwagon with it against the Taliban, although there are some indications that the Pakistanis hate the Taliban worse than the strikes. But Massoud’s rise to power over the last several years has come entirely through intimidation, coercion, and bloodshed, and through substituting an ascetic version of Islamic authority for the organic one that exists in the Pakistani tribal areas. If he didn’t have the pretext of the drone strikes, he’d use another. That’s not to dismiss the real concerns raised by the seemingly promiscuous use of the drones — concerns raised by premier counterinsurgents like David Kilcullen — only to place Massoud’s use of them in context.
More broadly, whether Massoud himself can fulfill his charming little boast, his comments are a reminder of the threat emanating from the Af-Pak border that Friday’s strategy from the administration aims to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat."
Crossposted to The Streak.