The Taliban’s Pakistani franchise apparently suffers delusions of grandeur:
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani Taliban militant leader Baituallah Mehsud claimed on Saturday responsibility for an attack on a U.S. immigration centre in New York state in which 13 people were killed.
“I accept responsibility. They were my men. I gave them orders in reaction to U.S. drone attacks,” Mehsud told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Apparently, Jiverly Voong, an immigrant from Vietnam who barely spoke english, was a loyal soldier of the Pashtun and Urdu speaking mullahs in Peshawar. The FBI is treating the Taliban’s claim with the respect it deserves (namely, very little).
Why would the Taliban make such a puerile, transparent attempt to claim credit for the shooting? To strike fear into our American hearts? If so, perhaps the campaign in Afghanistan has succeeded more than we know, for it seems the clever leaders have long ago been weeded out via attrition and only the dim bulbs like Baitullah Mehsud are left to run the operation.
I think it’s likely that part of their motivation for their desperate claim to relevance was to draw attention away from another little PR disaster – the public video of the flogging of a 12-year old girl in Swat. The video, captured on mobile phone has been distributed widely in Pakistan and has led to international outrage, enough so that the Taliban have actually gone into damage-control mode:
“This was an old incident which happened before the Islamic Sharia
courts were constituted in the Swat Valley and even before the
ceasefire was announced.
“It was not officially done by the Taliban but some Taliban did that
in their private capacity,” Taliban spokesperson Haji Muslim Khan told
Adnkronos International (AKI).
Khan said the girl’s flogging took place while the Taliban was
fighting the Pakistani army. “We were not in a position to control each
and every event and therefore some lapses happened,” he said.
I find it remarkable that they would go to such pains to disassociate themselves from the flogging – note that they even claim it occurred before the transition to Shari’a rule in Swat, which suggests that they see the flogging video as a threat to the legitimacy they are trying to build for themselves there. Of course they still claim the girl was guilty of an illicit relationship and that the punishment was deserved (the names of the four witnesses to her crime that the Qur’an mandates exist prior to conviction of adultery were, of course, not made public).
This video is significant, I believe. The Taliban initially claimed that they “encouraged” the video’s distribution so as to “send a message” to anyone who dares oppose them. Well, the numbers of those who dare will grow, especially in Pakistan and in Swat.