A U.S. military officer said the truck-bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, is being viewed as a major failure of local security to deal with terrorist threats.
The bombing on Sept. 20 took place as many foreign visitors were in the hotel for Ramadan meals. A massive truck bomb detonated, killing up to 80 people, including possibly two Western intelligence officers.
Three people linked to a Pakistani Islamist group with ties to al Qaeda were arrested in Gujranwala, a city in central Punjab province, after electronic surveillance led security authorities to them hours after the Marriott blast, Reuters reported from Pakistan, quoting an intelligence officer.
The six-story hotel was a frequent meeting place in the city and was a part-time residence for some U.S. Embassy personnel. Two Marine security guards were killed in the blast.
The military officer said the hotel’s security was inadequate because the distance from the highway was insufficient. “That’s not enough to prevent a Khobar Towers or Oklahoma City bombing,” the officer said. “That should have been a no-go for any regular hanging out with groups of Americans in a country like Pakistan or even staying overnight.”
The blast crater was 20 feet by 30 feet, indicating that the amount of explosives used in the truck bomb probably was more than the initial estimate of 1,000 pounds of explosives, the officer said. “Ver y poor antiterrorism/force protection consideration,” he said.