Pak­istan bomb­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

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.

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