Restoring pure Islam is the goal not only of al Qaeda but of many devout Muslims and it is important to remember the experiment in Afghanistan to do just that, using the Taliban, was supported by the Pakistani intelligence service.
New Duranty: ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Qaeda network accused by Pakistan’s government of killing the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto is increasingly made up not of foreign fighters but of homegrown Pakistani militants bent on destabilizing the country, analysts and security officials here say.
But this year they have very clearly expanded their ranks and turned to a direct confrontation with the Pakistani security forces while also aiming at political figures like Ms. Bhutto, the former prime minister who died when a suicide bomb exploded as she left a political rally on Thursday.
According to American officials in Washington, an already steady stream of threat reports spiked in recent months. Many concerned possible plots to kill prominent Pakistani leaders, including Ms. Bhutto, President Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif, another opposition leader.
“Al Qaeda right now seems to have turned its face toward Pakistan and attacks on the Pakistani government and Pakistani people,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters in Washington on Dec. 21.
The expansion of Pakistan’s own militants, with their fortified links to Al Qaeda, presents a deeply troubling development for the Bush administration and its efforts to stabilize this volatile nuclear-armed country.
It is also one that many in Pakistan have been loath to admit, but that Ms. Bhutto had begun to acknowledge in her many public statements about the greatest threat to her country being in religious extremism and terrorism...