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CTC Sentinel: al-Qaeda's Pakistan Strategy

Author: Don Rassler
June 2009


Don Rassler's analysis of al-Qaeda's role in Pakistan reveals that the organization is "acting to shape Pakistan's militant environment and foster jihad against the Pakistani government."

Al-qa'ida's strategy in Pakistan remains intentionally opaque, but has demonstrably shifted in recent years to promote increased confrontation with the Pakistani state. Al-Qa'ida's fighters originally used Pakistan as a key logistics base and facilitation point for the Afghan and Arab mujahidin during the 1980s, but since 2001 Pakistan has served primarily as an operational safe haven where al-Qa'ida and its affiliates can plan local, regional and international terrorist attacks. Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and smaller parts of Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) comprise al-Qa'ida's physical center of gravity. Increasingly, however, al-Qa'ida has utilized its media prowess and ideological authority to discredit the Pakistani state and promote cooperation among a variety of Pakistani militants to challenge the state's authority and undermine its support for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.

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