News / Asia

Pentagon: More Needed Against Terrorists in Pakistan

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell (File)
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell (File)

The Pentagon spokesman Thursday said more aggressive efforts are needed against terrorist safe havens in Pakistan that are home to groups like the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the failed bombing of Times Square on Saturday.  But the spokesman said the pace of such operations must be determined by the Pakistani government.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said the United States will not be putting pressure on Pakistan to do more to fight terrorist groups, but he said more does need to be done.

"Clearly, there are safe havens that are yet to be fully targeted -- as aggressively targeted as can be, as need be.  But the pace and the timing and the schedule to undertake those operations is of the Pakistanis' choosing," he said.

Morrell said Pakistan has been reluctant to try to do more than its military can handle at one time, preferring to consolidate gains before moving into new areas along its northwestern frontier with Afghanistan.  He praised Pakistan, as U.S. officials have done frequently, for recognizing and beginning to deal with the terrorist groups in recent years.

"There has been through repeated operations an attrition of the leadership.  There has been clearly a disruption of operations that were in the works there.  And so they are clearly making real and dramatic progress against this shared enemy," said Morrell.

In addition to Pakistani military operations and attempts to improve governance in the tribal areas, U.S. attacks by unmanned aircraft have targeted terrorist leaders in the region.  U.S. officials refuse to discuss the air strikes, which are believed to be carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Pentagon spokesman also welcomed Pakistan's pledge of cooperation into the Times Square attempted bombing, but could not provide details.  News reports say Pakistani investigators have detained several family members and associates of the alleged bomber, Faisal Shahzad -- a 30-year-old from Pakistan, who lived in the United States and became a U.S. citizen last year.

Morrell noted that the investigation is being handled by civilian agencies, but he said the bombing attempt carried a message for the U.S. military and its allies.

"The incident in Times Square clearly points to the need for us all to continue our aggressive operations in going after terrorists, wherever they reside," Morrell said.

In this case, the alleged terrorist resided in Connecticut, but allegedly received training, and possibly money, during a recent visit to Pakistan.

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