Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pakistan: US Embassy, Islamabad Issues Terror Threat

Following receipt of an impending terror threat passed to the US Embassy by the Pakistani Interior Ministry earlier today (October 7), US citizens are being warned to stay away from government buildings and several hotels (including the Marriott, Holiday Inn, Best Western and Margalla) in the capital because of a generalized terror threat.
Local media has reported thousands of Pakistanis were headed toward Pakistan's volatile tribal region to protest American drone strikes.
COMMENT: Impending terror threats are nothing new in Islamabad; actually bombings, kidnappings, facility attacks and protests are a fairly common event on a weekly basis.
Given the tensions between the US and Pakistani governments, though, it is not normal for the Interior Ministry to alert American diplomats to imminent threats.
As many of my previous postings attest, hotel bombings in Pakistan have been targeted by suicide bombers in the past (including the Marriott).

Although Pakistan's premier intelligence service, the ISI, touches every element of Pakistani society, albeit providing it wishes to do so, it has rarely alerted foreign diplomats, NGOs and hotels of imminent threats.

Never being sure whether security threats are well-corroborated or simply cautionary, US citizens should stay close to home in the coming days and vary their routes and movements in the event they must venture out, if an American is targeted for kidnapping.

If Americans are resident in any of the hotels mentioned above or hotels not identified, they would be well-advised to make arrangements to stay in other safe locations until it becomes clearer as to whether the threat becomes reality.

It is also noteworthy to point out that most travel alerts and warnings are issued by the Department of State in Washington, yet considering the threat occurred on a weekend, the Embassy understandably issued their own terror alert given the time-sensitivity of the threat.