Friday, December 5, 2008

Next terror attack on US will originate in Pak: Report

Pakistan is the weakest link in world security and the next terror attack in the US will originate in that country, said a
high-powered bipartisan US Congressional commission, adding it is the "intersection of nuclear weapons and terrorism."

"If one has to map terrorism and weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan," the report "World at Risk" said while devoting a whole chapter on the Islamic country.

"Although Pakistan is an ally (of US) there is a grave danger it could also be an unwitting source of a terrorist attack on the United States, possibly with weapons of mass destruction," the report said.

The Commission was chaired by former US Senator Bob Graham and included Wendy Sherman, a former senior Clinton Administration official, who is now the chair of the foreign policy transition team of the incoming Obama Administration.

Speaking on CNN television, Graham called Pakistan the "intersection of the perfect storm."

In remarks suggesting that Pakistan could be emerging as a most lethal tinderbox, the report noted that "Pakistan has nuclear weapons and a history of unstable governments and parts of its territory are currently a safe haven for al-Qaida and other terrorists."

The authors of the report said they had "singled out Pakistan for special attention in the report, as we believe it poses a serious challenge to America's short-term and medium-term national security interests. Indeed many government officials and outside experts believe that the next terrorist attack against the US is likely to originate from within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan."

"Moreover, given Pakistan's tense relationship with India, its buildup of nuclear weapons is exacerbating the prospect of a dangerous arms race in South Asia that could lead to a nuclear conflict," the commission warned.

The rapid spread of nuclear technology in countries like Pakistan and Iran are seen as the main dangers with Islamabad seen as perhaps the most dangerous of them all.

The odds that terrorists will soon strike a major city with nuclear or biological weapons are now higher than ever, the panel said, identifying Pakistan as an area of "grave concern" due to terror networks and its atomic arsenal.

"In terms of the next of proliferation and terrorism, Pakistan must top the list of priorities for the next President and the Congress," the report said.

The Commission suggested that the next President and the Congress should implement a comprehensive policy towards Pakistan that works with Islamabad and other countries to eliminate terrorist safe havens through military, economic and diplomatic means and secure biological and nuclear materials in Pakistan. They should also counter and defeat extremist ideology and constraint a nascent nuclear arms race in Asia.

The report warned that a nuclear or biological attack is likely within five years and called for decisive global action to address the threat. It urged the creation of a new post in the White House that would focus solely on overseeing government efforts to prevent an attack with WMD.

Without urgent action, "it is more likely than not that a WMD will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013," the commission said.

"America's margin of safety is shrinking," it added. The main dangers identified by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism are the rapid spread of nuclear technology in countries such as Pakistan and Iran and poor security in biotech industries worldwide.

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